Jean-Pierre Bourtayre and “Les maîtres du temps”

Having been utterly stunned by the all-time classic cult animation La planète sauvage (aka Fantastic Planet), I was extremely keen to investigate further films by its director René Laloux. Like La planète sauvage, Les maîtres du temps (aka Time Masters) is based on a novel by the French science fiction writer Stefan Wul. Furthermore, as with the involvement in the earlier film of the brilliant Roland Topor, Les maîtres du temps is also centred on the work of a visionary visual artist – in this case the legendary Jean Giraud, aka Moebius.

Unfortunately, compared to its near-perfectly formed predecessor, Les maîtres du temps is a much more flawed piece of work. The budgetary constraints and production difficulties experienced by Laloux – this excellent article has more information about the director’s fascinating career – are evident in the wildly varying quality of the animation and the somewhat disjointed storyline. However, many sequences are just as bewitching as those in La planète sauvage, and the film is also pleasingly redolent of the 1980s in a way that particularly appealed to my nostalgic sensibility.

This brings me to the film’s soundtrack, which particularly impressed me. It was composed by Jean-Pierre Bourtayre, who throughout his lengthy career has scored many films and television series, as well as writing songs for the likes of France Gall and Françoise Hardy. His music for Les maîtres du temps often sounds uncannily current in its similarity to the Hauntological sounds of the Ghost Box label, and especially the Hypnagogic Pop of artists such as Emeralds and Oneohtrix Point Never. In fact I can easily imagine this film and its music having a typically Hypnagogic, half-remembered influence on artists from Francophone countries, such as France’s Valerie Collective, or the Belgian Dolphins Into The Future.

Whilst Alain Goraguer’s brilliant soundtrack to La planète sauvage is reasonably easy to obtain, this is sadly not the case for the music in Les maîtres du temps – although it does seem to have been released in France around the time of the film. Therefore, I recorded a couple of my favourite pieces of music from the DVD. You can listen to these below, along with an excellent disco track that Jean-Pierre Bourtayre recorded in collaboration with Bernard Estardy (with thanks to Soul Train), and a much earlier piece of film music composed by Bourtayre and Jean Bouchety (with thanks to A List Of Things We Lost). I now look forward to seeing the final feature film by René Laloux, Gandahar (aka Light Years). If it is as good as his other work, then I will no doubt write about it here too!

Thanks to Eric Carl for the images.

“Swimming Scene” (from “Les Maîtres Du Temps” OST) by Jean-Pierre Bourtayre

“End Titles” (from “Les Maîtres Du Temps” OST) by Jean-Pierre Bourtayre

“Disco Energy” by Universal Energy

“Un Certain Regard” (from “The Game Is Over” OST) by Jean-Pierre Bourtayre and Jean Bouchety


12 thoughts on “Jean-Pierre Bourtayre and “Les maîtres du temps”

  1. Thanks for the music! Excellent, I love this cartoon and the soundtrack as well. Part of my childhood. I was about 4-5 years old in Hungary when I first saw it. I watched it many times since that as an adult.

  2. Hmmm, I don’t know that I’ve seen that concatenation of words before: “excellent disco track”…. They’re all proper English words–they just don’t seem to make sense together! I wouldn’t say it was “excellent,” but I will concede that that song did suck less than most disco trax….

  3. I wonder if you ever managed to track down the actual ‘Les maîtres du temps’ soundtrack? I tend to watch the film along with Fantastic Planet & Gandahar at least once a year and each time it re-kindles my interest in tracking it down!

    Did you manage to see Gandahar? An absolute mind-blowing animation of cosmic proportions…like cosmic disco music and radical philosophy, the French seem to do it so much better than the rest! Rene Laloux & Moebius are the gods of psychedelic animation (with honourable mention to the Japanese, particularly Belladona Of Sadness, the essence of seventies trippy animation)

    PS> The Universal Energy album is one of my all time favourite French cosmic-prog-discoid seventies productions, worthy of anything my other two French gods, Jean-Pierre Massiera & Bernard Fevre ever put out so a good choice to put up, clearly a person of taste at work 😉

  4. Yes, I saw Gandahar, totally blew me away! It’s a shame that Rene Laloux only made 3 three full-length features, but I guess we should be grateful for the amazingness that he did produce. Unfortunately the “maitres du temps” soundtrack seems to be pretty hard to get hold of these days, not sure it was actually released anywhere outside of France in the first place. Anyway, thanks for the comment. Like you, I think I’ll be watching these films many many more times in the future!

  5. Just watched this movie and loved it, it seems from the comments that now i must watch Gandahar… thanks for the music clips, that end theme is hauntingly awesome… by the way, do you have any idea (from the DVD) of the thumping music at the beginning of the movie?


    • Hi, yes you should definitely see Gandahar too, really good. As far as I could tell, that opening music is by Jean-Pierre Bourtayre too. I would love to hear a clean version of it (without the film’s sound effects) as it is a really excellent tune!

  6. Wow…my parents had a mono copy of “The Game Is Over” and I listened to it over and over when I was a kid growing up in Cleveland, Ohio. I’d put on “Un Certain Regard” and pretend I was a bartender in a swanky cocktail lounge somewhere in France.

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