Les Temps Morts by René Laloux


Is Les Temps Morts a French figure of speech? The phrase translates as “idle periods” as well as the more literal “dead times”, so the title of this short film from 1964 may have some punning intent. This was René Laloux’s second film as director, and one I’d not seen before until it turned up on YouTube. It’s an oddly morbid piece not far removed in tone from yesterday’s The Apotheosis of War but a dose of Surrealism courtesy of Roland Topor’s minatory imagination rescues it from Vereshchagin’s moralising.


Between some documentary clips of children play-fighting, war scenes, bullfights and bird shoots, Topor’s scratchy ink drawings are brought to life with minimal animation. There’s also some narration in unsubtitled French. Laloux, Topor and soundtrack composer Alain Goraguer followed this with another, lighter short, The Snails (also on YouTube), in 1966, and joined forces again for Laloux’s first animated feature in 1973, the justly-celebrated Fantastic Planet, a science fiction film that’s a lot weirder than the usual Hollywood conceptions of the genre. That’s been on DVD for a while, and is essential viewing for Topor aficionados.

The schizophrenic cinema of René Laloux by Craig Keller.


Previously on { feuilleton }
Taxandria, or Raoul Servais meets Paul Delvaux