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