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Oms en Serie

Oms en SÚrie is a science fiction novel by Stephan Wul, written in 1957. In 1974 is was adapted as the animated film Fantastic Planet by director Rene Laloux. The film maintains the feel of the original story, while changing much of the core plot, and adding many details.

The film Traags look somewhat similar to those described by Wul, though a bit more human, and much bigger.

"She was a small and pretty Traag girl, with big red eyes, a narrow nasal slit, a mobile mouth and, on either side of her smooth skull, two eardrums so fine they appeared translucent. [...] At only three metres tall, she was slight for a seven year old."

One detail where the film follows the book almost exactly is in the Traag learning device. Some of the lectures that Terr overhears in the film are taken very closely from the book.

"The four continents retouched by the Traags have a triangular equilateral shape and are of equal size. Two are situated at the same distance from each other in hemisphere A, the other two at equal distance from each other in hemisphere B. Their tips point towards the poles, while their bases face the equator."

The tribes of wild Oms in the park are also the same in both: The Big Tree Gang and The Red Bush Gang (ruled by The Old Woman). Also, the importance of Terr's ability to read is the same: initially proving his worth to the wild Oms, and in knowing about the upcoming deomization of the park.

The scene where the Oms are first leaving the park, and get in a fight with two Traags is exactly the same.

"Vermin! The Councillors should get it all cleaned up. Having Oms at home is not a bad thing: it's entertaining. But all those wild Oms: they pillage, they're dirty and they breed at a tremendous rate. Besides these animals are unhappy in the wild, full of lice and skin diseases!"

A very interesting feature of the story is the difference in time scale between the Traags and Oms. This is important in the film, but discussed even more extensively in the book. In the film, the Traags decide to deomize, and the Oms can do nothing but flee until the reach the planet's moon. In the book, there is much more to the conflict, and it is in the Traag's reactions to Om strategy where the time scale differences become most important.

The flight from the park and the creation of a secret underground Om city in the ruins of old Traag ruins is the same in both, including the fact that the main purpose of the city is a giant workshop to create ships to escape in. However, in the original, the ships are ocean-going, not spaceships. A bigger difference however, is that the launching of the Om escape ships happens in the last five minutes of the movie, but exactly halfway through the novel. The journey on the ships, and the colonization of the wild continent they land on, are both major parts of the book, and entirely missing from the film.

Both the film and book give extensive descriptions of the strange flora & fauna of the planet, but they are completely different in detail. The most important creatures we encounter in the book are prongs, whose floating eggs make any voyage by ship extremely dangerous. (A newly hatched prong can sink even the largest ship by accidently rolling over onto it.)

"As it surfaced, the ship rammed another sphere. Strips of membranes were floating like wet linen on the gangway's cover. But the ship managed to sail into the open waters and was heading for another shoal of eggs looming in the distance."

The debates by Traag politicians and scientists on the subject of Oms is much more detailed in the book, as the conflict is also much more complex. (The Traag scientist who first perceives that Oms could be a real threat is publicly discredited, and only later proven correct.)

The most significant feature of the film that isn't in the book is Traag meditation & the moon. The most significant feature of the book that is dropped in the film is the entire second half of the book (regrouping after the escape flight and fighting back).

Some other minor scenes that are not from the book are the Tiva & Terr makeup scene, delinquent Traag children making Oms fight, the Om mating ritual, and clothing snails.

There is a fight in which Oms defeat a huge creature in both, but all the details are completely different.

The film and book do end on a similar note of reconciliation between the Traags and Oms.

"'Traags,' he said, 'and you, little Oms, I have signed! Your Aedile's work is over. The details will be ratified by the Councils. Our two races are united for the better or the worse!'"