Marc Campbell’s post yesterday on the Jodorowsky’s Dune documentary—he was even more effusive in his praise of the film on the phone—reminded me of something that I wanted to post here:
Before their collaboration on the classic 1973 animated sci-fi feature, Fantastic Planet, René Laloux and Roland Topor made “Les Escargots,” (“The Snails”) an exquisite stop-frame animated short in 1965. (If the Jodorowsky link isn’t clear, in the early 1960s, Fernando Arrabal, Roland Topor and Jodorowsky mounted entrail-covered Hermann Nitsch-like theatrical performance art happenings as “the Panic Movement” in Paris.)
Here’s how IMDB describes this little-known mini-masterpiece:
A gardener tries his best to make his salad plants grow. It is only when he cries that his tears finally water the field and the salads grow huge. The incredible size attracts a multitude of snails that quickly become giant too, causing disasters and panic in the nearby city.
I think that about says it all… The film’s message is a bit ambiguous, as you’ll see. “Les Escargots” won Special Jury Prize at the Cracow Film Festival.
Fun facts: Roland Topor wrote the novel of the same title that Roman Polanski’s creepy as fuck psychological thriller, The Tenant was based on and he played the role of “Renfield” in Werner Herzog’s movie Nosferatu the Vampyre.
The year before “Les Escargots,” René Laloux and Roland Topor collaborated on “Les Temps Morts” (“Dead Times”) an anti-war meditation on what it means to be human.