on "gandahar (light years)," an understandable cinematic trip

A harmonious balance between nature and man, interrupted by machines of destruction 1000 years ago or the destruction will be in 1000 years, but whatever. The past foreseeing deformed people help the present man from the past kill the robots from the future that make kinder eggs with statues in them. He meets a girl and a giant brain that... yeah, I don’t know, but it’s definitely better for you to watch Gandahar (Light Years) than to have me explain it.

Light Years is a tale of Sylvain from an ailing Gandahar, victim to a raid by metal suited men that turn people to stone to be converted to energy for an aging mega giant brain named Metamorphis. Sylvain is tasked with finding the source of the metal men and destroying them. This takes him on a journey through Gandahar, and through time, finding love on the way, and a forgotten people left behind by their own government that helps him on this journey. If I go any further in explaining, then this article will turn into a riddle, much like the one that is relayed in the beginning of the movie: "In a thousand years, Gandahar will be destroyed. A thousand years ago, Gandahar will be saved and what can't be avoided will be." No, I didn't get confused- that's the riddle. While you will think about it for the first 5 minutes of the movie, by the end (when it is told again,) you'd probably understand it.

Even if you don't understand it the first time through, don't be intimidated by Rene Laloux's psychedelic filmmaking, which was the main reason for me to watch this movie over and over even after the point of understanding. Part of the beauty of this movie is the world it is set in; from the seemingly perfect symbiosis between man and nature, and the unknown vastness of the rest of the world Sylvain journeys through. This movie explores the destruction of nature by an industrialized evil version of man, seen through the eyes of a more peaceful, co-existent version of man. When you get past the riddles that you may or may not understand, you find a completely different reason to appreciate this film. To watch Gandahar and not pay attention to the “specifics” is to get lost in a world full of fantasy, awe, and impossibility. I remember wondering if humans possessed the capacity to live like Gandaharians or if we are more likely to end up like the metal-clad antagonist from the future.

No matter which one we are closer to, the casting out of “undesirables” like the Deformed is all too familiar to us and the repeated failed human intervention from experiments like Metamorphis sheds new light on the “perfect” symbiosis of Gandahar. Although this animated film is not for children, the action and colorful animation make for an interesting watch no matter your level of comprehension of the plot. Gandahar is by no means a perfect movie, but it has reasons to be an understandably trippy and unique movie experience, as well as having many aspects to appreciate. If you do get to watch this movie, I suggest watching the original French version with subtitles- since the English version might lose some things in translation. ✉

article by: javier mencia

visual by: tmdb



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