Sunday, September 22, 2013

REVIEW: Time Masters

Time Masters
Director: Rene Laloux
Year 1982

Time Masters, AKA Les maitres du temps, is a fantastically strange and obscure French animated Sci-Fi movie which is brimming with mystery and intrigue. Immersed in a fictional futuristic world, this space opus is among the most unique and bizarre of its kind. With original designs by the acclaimed illustrator Jean Giraud, otherwise known as Moebius, and an ability to present a world void of restrictions on the imagination, Time Masters is without a doubt a science fiction feature that will take you to worlds unimaginable. Not only that, but it is wrapped tightly around a story that is anything but orthodox.

The film follows a lost boy named Piel, who has recently been orphaned on the savage planet of Perdide. Having survived an attack by the planet's carnivorous creatures, which brings about the death of his father, Piel makes contact via radio with a man named Jaffar, an adventurer who is traveling the cosmos with his motley crew. Separated by great distances, Jaffar and his crew must divert from their current mission in order to come to Piel's aid, but will they get there in enough time.

What a wild film Time Masters is! First of all, the cast of characters are extremely diverse and equally strange, ranging from space pirates, a conniving and feminine prince, a pair of telepathic little creatures, a jovial old space explorer, and a heroic space adventurer. There is nothing typical about any of these characters, and each one feels fresh and unique to this original science fiction landscape that collaborators Rene Laloux, Stefan Wul, and Jean Giraud have created. Based off of Wul's novel L'Orphelin de Perdide, the film delves deep into some of the most unusual aspects of the novel, but still manages to add a few daring alternatives to the already compelling points of the original story.

Immersed in a wild universe that is anything but typical, the film relies heavily on outlandish moments and otherworldly creatures to dazzle your mind. Throughout the feature, we are witness to giant vicious bugs, faceless angel-like beings, weird quadrupedal creatures, and just about every strange thing in the book. The world's that the filmmakers have brought to life are effective in their presentation and often unsettling in their unfamiliar nature. Danger looms around every corner, appearances deceive, and most of all there is a heavy dose of wonder etched in every frame of this film.

Visually the film is expertly crafted thanks to the original designs by the legendary Moebius. Everything in the world is just so peculiar in presentation that it does wonders for making you believe in the validity of the unnatural realms on display. In an imaginatively slow build up we are introduced to the characters, landscapes, and creatures of this cinemascape, and each of these instances is pure Moebius. Like something out of his Arzach or The Incal graphic novels, the vivid intricacies of his designs and the cohesive nature in which they all flow together in believable juncture, give a great lived in feel to the texture of the world.

As for the story, it is a simple yarn, yet one that gets extremely twisted and bold as the narrative weaves its way forward. Nothing is as it seems in this film, and by the end of this unusual journey you will be left with a strange sense of awe and respect for the genuinely unique vision that all of the artists involved have been able to accomplish. Astoundingly against the grain and rather bold and daring in its presentation, Time Masters is one animated feature that opens our eyes to a greater vision, one filled with wonderful sights and dangerous adventures.

Time Masters is a unique interpretation of French writer Stefan Wul's 'The Orphan Perdide'. Taking the same tone as the book and expanding upon it, the animated feature opens up the possibilities of this thriving world, allowing for us to explore its unusual offerings and diverse vistas. The characters within this story are surprisingly complex and are often faced with rather extraordinary situations, which tap on a handful of moral issues and philosophical quandaries.

In general the real asset of this production is the collaboration of all its aspects and the way they gel so nicely together. The creatures, the various planets, the overall atmosphere of the production, they all combine to make for a compelling watch. Added on top of that is a story that traverses on subjects and situations that most likely have never, or will never, be explored again within the medium. End it all with a twist that is both emotionally disheartening and wholly unexpected, and you've got yourself one hell of a good animated science fiction feature. If you're a fan of Moebius' distinct style or a sucker for animated science fiction, then you owe it to yourself to track this one down. It's a real winner! Time Masters is.....

Creepy Space Staring Contest..... GO!

Are you sure you forgot to pack all of your pants Jaffar?

That's one sassy little creature.

Suddenly I have the feeling..... Like we're being watched!

What's up guys.... ladies? What the hell are you?

Will you stop playing around on that thing and get me the hell out of here!

Jaffar's got some sweet dance moves!

You're not going anywhere until you get a hug from me buddy.

Never take candy from strangers kid.

Let's kick this dance off right!

How about a backrub? Why you little perverts!

Get this kid a fly swatter!

And you thought the mosquitoes in your town sucked.

Behold! The Master of the Greenscreen!

Red Rover... Red Rover... let Billy come over!


  1. A great movie, loved every second of it. I think at one point this movie started out as a television show, but then the director decided to go with a full length feature film...Moebius was such an asset, as he is on any film he ever worked on (Alien, The Fifth Element).

    I enjoyed how the film dives into deep themes, for example, everyone has something to say to the little kid, reminding us how kids are guided by what adults tell them, and the importance of guiding them properly, but in the end, it's up to the individual to choose his life, to choose how he will survive against the threats in the world.

    The film even comments on religion, and how it wants to turn everybody into drones, with a hive like mentality, that scene with the planet full of faceless angels...awesome stuff.

    My favorite part of the film where those two little beings who could read your mind, but in the end, there's so many wonderful and strange creatures on this film, it's so entertaining because of that.

    1. You nailed it on the head! The film has so much depth and so many themes running through it that it's rather incredible. It can be viewed in so many ways and I think that's an amazing accomplishment for a film, let alone an animated feature, to be able to pull off. I'm probably going to tackle Fantastic Planet next, another Rene Laloux wonder!

  2. Fantastic Planet is his masterpiece, I think you will love it. It's even more anti-system, anti-religion, anti-opression....and it's strangely alluring...such strange yet beautiful images and sounds, you are in for a treat!