Since its 1973 release, Czech/French animated film Fantastic Planet has become an object of fascination. Eschewing the fluid, cartoonish qualities of mid-20th-century American animation for a more static and painterly style, the film pairs its unique approach to animation with some of the most outlandish visuals ever committed to screen. With its tale of giant blue aliens, the humans they keep in captivity, and their subsequent struggles, Fantastic Planet remains a singular achievement in film — often copied, never equaled.
Given its heavily psychedelic bent, it’s no surprise Fantastic Planet has left its mark on the psyche of many creative types, including musicians. Beloved Italo-disco cut “Spacer Woman” has been paired with the movie’s otherworldly imagery in a widely seen video, intrepid aural adventurer Flying Lotus is a known fan, and left-field hip-hop producer Madlib has been known to use the film’s iconography as visual accompaniment during his live sets.
This same musical enthusiasm will be on display Saturday when synthwave artist Mystvries performs a live, never-before-heard score to accompany Fantastic Planet at Coral Gables Art Cinema. The movie will be screened as part of the 21st edition of the Miami Jewish Film festival, a decision influenced by Roland Topor — the film’s writer/illustrator — and his history as the son of Polish-Jewish refugees, as well as the movie’s themes of imprisonment and sociopolitical oppression.
“I took the Om [Fantastic Planet’s name for humans] hunting scene as a direct allegory to the Holocaust and tracking runaway Jews,” Mystvries says. “I thought, Now this could make for a unique jumping-off point for a live score.”
Mystvries — an anonymous local musician who belongs to Miami’s Bribery Corporation record label and collective — is not pulling any punches for the event, having composed more than three hours' worth of music before whittling it down to fit Fantastic Planet’s relatively brief 72-minute running time. Additionally, he’ll employ an almost imposing array of musical gear and software in order to lend his score a rich texture worthy of the movie’s sumptuous visuals.
“For my live setup, I've got a slew of bleep and bloop machines,” Mystvries says. “I'm going to be running an Arturia BeatStep Pro, which will control a Dave Smith Mopho, a Dave Smith Evolver, and an Arturia Drum Brute. Then, for live instrumentation, I'll have a Dave Smith Prophet 08, a Korg DW8000, and, finally, a Nektar Panorama 61 as my midi controller. Everything will be patched in through Logic Pro X, and I'll be using plugins like DIVA, Massive, Spire, Omnisphere, and TAL U-No.”
Citing the soundscapes of the recently released future cult classic Blade Runner 2049 as an influence, Mystvries says he attempted to approach his score with no preconceptions, entirely dispensing with Fantastic Planet’s pre-existing soundtrack of psychedelic jazz in the process.
“I'm not gonna lie: This score took me 16 hours and an Adderall,” he quips. “I watched the movie on repeat and just tried to create an atmosphere and backdrop that would carry the visuals for lack of dialogue. It's as much what Johnny Jewel’s Themes for an Imaginary Film was to Drive as anything else.”
Given the singular, one-off nature of the event, Mystvries hopes Saturday’s screening will kick off a series of similar shows hosted by himself or Bribery Corporation in 2018. In the meantime, he’s just eager to take Miami audiences on an unforgettable — and some might say fantastic — sonic voyage.
“I hope audiences come with the same attitude as when they go to a museum's laser light shows, like ‘Hey, I'm about to see something so sick, accompanied by a soundtrack that's going to take me on a journey,’" Mystvries says. "Honestly, I hope everyone just does acid and makes out the whole time.”
A snippet of Mystvries’ Fantastic Planet score can be found on his SoundCloud page.
Fantastic Planet Live Score Performance. With Mystvries. 11:15 p.m. Saturday, January 13, at Coral Gables Art Cinema, 260 Aragon Ave., Coral Gables; 786-385-9689; gablescinema.com. Tickets cost $8.
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