Thursday, December 27, 2007

[DVD] Time Masters (Les Maîtres du Temps) (1982)

We Can Read Emotions!

The prime reason why I picked up this animated movie was because I've seen the DVD cover in a documentary on French artist Moebius entitled Moebius Redux: A Life in Pictures, which was screened in this year's Animation National festival. Directed by René Laloux, Time Masters is a science fiction piece with designs by the master artist

Despite having the English title as Time Masters, there isn't any time component in its core story, though it gets shoved quite haphazardly into the revelation, which seemed to have come from the blind side, and took me by surprise for a bit. Didn't see it coming, but on hindsight, it came woefully too late though, leaving things wrapped up fairly quickly in the last act, that made it a little unsatisfactory, and treading very close to a cop out of sorts.

A 1980s animated movie, it does present a time travel of sorts for the viewer. After having being so used to 3D or computer graphics being the tool of choice to churn out feature length animated movies, this did seem like a blast from the past, but still standing the test of time after 25 years. I guess with the science fiction genre, it does provide it an additional age in terms of longevity (like Tron). Here, the movie opens with a chase sequence over an eclectic synthesized soundtrack, where the boy Piel and his father is on a flight from some hornet creatures. Before his dad met his demise, he gives Piel an egg like communicator, and had radioed his good friend Jaffar for assistance to rescue his son.

Here on the movie takes on two parts. First, PIel and his surviving amongst various encounters and creatures from within a strange forested area within the desert planet of Perdide, while waiting for Jaffar to arrive. And on the other track, Jaffar and his crew of token love interest Belle, technical wizard Silbad, two psychic stowaway gnomes in Jad and Yula, and fugitive Prince Matton. engage in a series of adventures, dealing with internal bickering, as well as external threats such as on the Gamma 10 planet with its faceless winged creatures.

While the animation is rudimentarily simple in today's terms, the story does take on an interesting, mature dimension, especially with characterization. I particularly liked the gnomes as they provide clue-ins of sorts as they prepare you for what's possibly coming up, as well as to add some comedic elements into the storyline like a Laurel and Hardy. Piel too as the child shines through with real child-like qualities, which I thought was something different as he doesn't suddenly becomes a hero, which is so common in a typical story in today's setting, and what I thought was quite refreshing - let the kid stay a kid! And the designs by Moebius is just plain wicked, making the movie truly a sight to behold. Is there any more that you can ask for in a science fiction space adventure?

This Region Free DVD by Image Entertainment comes in full screen presentation, and the visuals look like they have been transferred from a VHS source, with soft edges and some blur in characters in a scene. Some pops and cackles are noticeable, but won't mar any enjoyment from the movie. Audio is in French mono, with subtitles only available in English. There are no extras in this bare bones DVD, not even a menu, except that it allows for scene selection over 10 chapters.

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