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Time Masters

Entry updated 12 March 2021. Tagged: Film.

Franco-Hungarian animated film (1982); original title Les Maîtres du temps. Télécip, TF1 Films Production. Directed by René Laloux. Written by René Laloux, Jean-Patrick Manchette and Moebius (Jean Giraud). Voice cast includes Michel Elias, Frédéric Legros, Yves-Marie Maurin, Monique Thierry and Jean Valmont. 79 minutes. Colour.

When his parents are killed by brain-eating Frelons, the child Piel (Legros) is left alone in a strange forest on the planet Perdide. His father had contacted his friend, Jaffar (Valmont), before he died, asking him to rescue Piel. Jaffar owns the Spaceship Double Triangle 22 and is currently taking Prince Matton (Maurin) and Princess Belle (Thierry) to Aldebaran. Matton has fled with half his planet's treasury with the authorities in hot pursuit, so he's upset when Jaffar changes course. The journey will take a month but Jaffar and the kindly Belle keep Piel company using the radio (which is clearly an Ansible). On the way they pick up Jaffar's old friend Silbad (Elias), who has experience of Perdide: there is a metal plate in his skull from a Frelon attack. Jad and Yula, a couple of Telepathic Alien gnomes accompany him, commenting on the humans' behaviour.

Matton attempts to use the radio to persuade Piel to drown himself: when caught he flees in the ship's shuttlecraft, landing on Gamma 10. Jaffa pursues and both are captured by featureless angels, to be fed to a creature of pure thought that will absorb their minds (see Hive Mind). Matton sacrifices himself, using his hatred and self-loathing to destroy the creature: Jaffa escapes. Eventually the Double Triangle 22 approaches Perdide.

At which point Piel is attacked by Frelons and the planet is colonized by the Masters of Time: these are aliens who practice "accelerated colonization" by sending planets back in time (see Time Travel). Caught in the event's concussion, Jaffar, Belle and Silbad are rescued by the Masters and hospitalized, but Silbad eventually dies. Jaffar learns Piel's fate: after being sent back sixty years with the planet he was rescued by an explorer before the Frelons could kill him. He lost his memory due to brain damage, which required him to have a metal plate fitted ... Silbad was Piel.

The film was based on Stefan Wul's novel L'orphelin de Perdide ["The Orphan from Perdide"] (1958); though Moebius's designs mean the backgrounds and incidental invention often hold interest, the film is unexceptional. The characters are dull: Matton smokes with a cigarette holder to show he is effete, Belle is love interest for Jaffar and Jaffar himself is nearly a nonentity; Jad and Yula possess the most personality. There is satire of Christianity (references to Eastern Religion are more flattering), but the plot is routine, with the point of "accelerated colonization" being unclear, except – like The Masters of Time themselves – as a plot device to send Piel back in time.

This film is not to be confused with Le Maître du temps (1971). [SP]


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