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LIGHT YEARS - 3 Slimes
Rated PG
Copyright 1986 Revcom Television.
Reviewed by Andrew Borntreger on 30 June 2001

The Characters:  

  • Sylvain - He is selected to investigate the threatening occurrences around Gandahar and turns out to be the best man for the job. Calm, thoughtful, and reasoning in his actions. Really unlike your standard action hero.
  • Airelle - Jennifer Grey! A beautiful young woman who falls instantly in love with Sylvain. He returns the favor, but is it because he respects her mind or her total disregard of shirts?
  • Ambisextra - Glenn Close! As the Queen of Jasper she is a woman with her head screwed on right. A good thing, too: if not it might fly away. Okay, sorry, that pun was probably uncalled for.
  • Blaminhoe - Counselor and advisor to the ruling body of Gandahar. He looks like a cross between Buddha and Confucius.
  • The Deformed - Genetic freaks banished from Gandahar because of their twisted bodies, though their minds are sound. Penn and Teller are among them! (This explains a lot of things.)
  • The Men of Metal - Soulless killers sent from the future to enslave the populace. Their marching precision bears no small resemblance to Fascist propaganda films from World War II.
  • Metamorphis - Christopher Plummer! Huge mass of brain tissue that was created by mistake and is responsible for the Men of Metal. When not musing on the secrets of life and the universe it exhibits traits disturbingly similar to a rotifer.

Buy It!

The Plot: 

Gandahar is an idyllic paradise where the citizens have mastered both themselves and their environment. Everything exists in perfect harmony with the world, providing an abundance of nourishment for both the body and soul. No need for net or hooks; the fish hop into your boat when a specific melody is played on a flute, while some plants germinate melons or pets on command. How would you like to have a new dog? Simply walk up to the nearest dog tree and let the deciduous mother know your desires. Within minutes a canine embryo begins forming in a large translucent fruit. When it ripens Rover (artistic license here - it is an alien pooch) bursts forth full of adulation for the waiting owner.

Another obvious aspect of the perfect world are breasts. You heard me correct, those physical structures common on females that us men are so appreciative of. Don't get me wrong now; breasts would obviously have a prominent place in any Elysian paradise among my dreams. It is just amusing in ways that require a Y chromosome.

Paradise is lost, not by a woman picking fruit, but when some malevolent force begins attacking the outlying regions of Gandahar. Reports reaching the capital city of Jasper are sketchy, but the audience is privy to certain terrifying secrets. Villages are being attacked and the inhabitants turned to stone by strange beams! Are the attackers medusa wearing storm trooper armor (this is what you get when I fall asleep during "Clash of the Titans" and wake up during "The Empire Strikes Back") or something less subtle?

Sylvain is dispatched by the Council of Women to find out what menaces their peaceful land. On the edge of civilization he is beset by strange winged creatures that swoop to attack. He finishes the last predator with a deadly organic weapon (just thinking about a rose bush germinating inside my head gives me the shivers) right after it mortally wounds his own mount. Yielding in death to gravity's call, the flyer makes a crash landing that leaves Sylvain unconscious. The brave young man is found by a group of hideous figures, all misshapen and prone to strange terms of speech.

The Deformed are not the enemy Sylvain seeks to unmask, though he first mistakes them for such. Instead we find out that they are products of ancient tampering by Gandaharian scientists, perhaps during their search to perfect everything. Reviled by those pure of blood, the Deformed have lived in exile for countless years. Despite this, they harbor no resentment against what the agent represents and even assist him in his quest.

Everything really takes off for a little while here as Sylvain is captured by the invaders, meets Airelle, escapes, witnesses the Men of Metal passing through a strange doorway, and discovers the Metamorphis. He returns to Jasper with all this new information (plus a new girlfriend to boot) and dumps it into Blaminhoe's lap. Luckily the wise old man finds a record of the Metamorphis in some data archives. Long ago scientists created the enormous brain and, not knowing what else to do with it, dumped the mass into the Circumscribing Sea. Great idea; didn't anyone on your planet watch "Alligator?"

Battles are fought and lost to stem the tide of ferrous invaders, including the peaceful citizens of Gandahar employing huge crab like beasts as weapons of war. Rolling giant boulders downhill at the invaders seems to work best (there are a few disadvantages to marching in formation while under attack), but the actions are only a fighting withdrawal. Everything depends on Sylvain's final mission: inject the Metamorphis with a deadly concoction before all is lost!

Now the enigmatic prophecy begins to make sense. The huge brain acknowledges that it and the Men of Metal are linked, but they come from a thousand years in the future. Sylvain is placed in suspended animation for a millennium, waking to find that Salvador Dali remodeled the planet while he slept (next on "Trading Spaces") and the Metamorphis is now a wicked thing. Its cells are too old to reproduce and legions of automatons issue through the doorway of time to plunder the past. People turned to stone are brought back through the gate, reanimated, and then used to replenish the huge brain's tissues.

Meanwhile, in the past, the war is lost and a huge flock of birds carries Jasper (the city is inside a mountain shaped like a woman's head) away. Will the hero be able to euthanize the old and decrepit Metamorphis before the birds all drop dead from hernias? It is more of a physical dilemma than a moral one; once grandpa starts snatching up the grandchildren and sucking out their brains you had better take a hammer to him.

Strange landscapes and races are expensive to film as live action. Even with the burgeoning growth of CGI some visions are simply best realized by talented pen and ink. "Light Years" is not great animation, but it is good animation. Potent would be a fitting description. Like the marching blocks of Metal Men or the Deformed man, who does not have any legs, balancing on one arm to greet Sylvain with an open palm. Here we have a screenplay groomed by Isaac Asimov and delivered with all the fixings. Enjoy it.

Things I Learned From This Movie: 

  • You don't want to be shot in the face, especially not by a gun that makes thorns grow out of whatever it hits.
  • Five heads are better than one.
  • Shaping your storage containers like eggs is a great idea. Unless there are enormous reptiles, with strong maternal instincts, running around. Then it's not such a great idea.
  • Flying carpets are made from neurons. (It's a long story.)
  • There are disadvantages to be being composed of metal, like electrical storms.
  • Having a weapon that causes petrification is of dubious value when your targets are rocks.

Stuff To Watch For: 

  • 3 mins - Ahhh! Silicates! Run for your lives!
  • 7 mins - I do not think one-eyed birds would be very successful, there is this neat requirement called "depth perception."
  • 13 mins - He has lips on his knees; bizarre.
  • 18 mins - Hey, how about a helping hand? If you have a normal one that is.
  • 30 mins - Obviously this planet's ocean does not have waves.
  • 51 mins - Are we men or are we freaks with limbs growing out of all the wrong places?
  • 63 mins - Maybe this is the wrong time to ask, but how do you go to the bathroom?
  • 68 mins - I sure hope that those are not steam pipes...

Quotes: 

  • Blaminhoe: "We've lived in peace so long, we've neglected the possibility of evil and we may have forgotten how to fight it. Perhaps we've been fools and this land of ours a fool's paradise."
  • Deformed: "You were, will be, Gandaharian?"
    Sylvain: "I was, will be. You were, will be, my friends."

 Audio clips in wav formatSOUNDSStarving actors speak out 

FileDialog
Green Music Note lightyears1.wav Sylvain: "My quest began with a riddle: 'In a thousand years Gandahar was destroyed. A thousand years ago Gandahar will be saved and what can't be avoided will be.'"
Green Music Note lightyears2.wav Ambisextra: "One less mirror bird to watch over our kingdom of Gandahar, killed like the others were. Who would do it and why?"
Blaminhoe: "To keep us from learning what threatens us. Without the eyes of the mirror birds we can't see what's happening at the borders of our land."
Green Music Note lightyears3.wav Metal Man Leader: "The 'I' does not exist!"
Metal Men: "The 'I' does not exist."
Metal Man Leader: "The true 'I' is 'We!' It is we, it is we!"
Green Music Note lightyears4.wav Sylvain and the Metamorphis discussing things.
Green Music NoteTheme Song Listen to a clip from the soundtrack.

 Click for a larger imageIMAGESScenes from the movie 

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 Watch a sceneVIDEOMPEG video files 

Video Cliplightyears1.mpg - 2.7m
Gandaharian troops are fighting the marching columns of Metal Men with their bioengineered weapons here. Where did they get these seeds, at the "Little Shop of Horrors?"

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Comments:Write CommentPages: 1 2 [3]
Re: Light Years
Reply #17. Posted on December 26, 2006, 07:43:47 PM by Andrea
i grew up watching this movie.  i searched for it for years to own, or even to rent; but  live in a small town and any movie without jesus in the title is hard to find.  now i'm looking for novels by the man who wrote the novel, isaac asimov.
Re: Light Years
Reply #18. Posted on November 04, 2007, 06:13:38 PM by TheOrientalNightfish
Isaac Asimov did not write Les Hommes-machines contre Gandahar (The Men-Machines Against Gandahar, the 1969 novel on which the film was based). That was by Jean-Pierre Andrevon. All Asimov did was adapt the translation into the English script – which isn't a very creative role; they only hired him so that they could put his name on the poster.

Gandahar, the original, French-language film, has been released on DVD with English subtitles in the UK (cat.# EKA40260; it's restored and anamorphic widescreen and so on). It's region-free (so doesn't require a multi-region player) but it is PAL-format, so won't work on all DVD players and TVs in America and Japan. See here for more info: http://www.eurekavideo.co.uk/moc/catalogue/gandahar

Also, the original soundtrack has been available on CD for some years now, on Gabriel Yared's Film Music Vol. 5 (cat.# CFY005). One can hear a few tracks from it here: http://www.myspace.com/gandaharlesanneeslumiere

And one more thing – here are a couple of links on Caza, the bande dessiner who designed the look of the film: http://www.lambiek.net/artists/c/caza.htm & http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caza
He also designed another animated film, much more recently, called Les Enfants de la pluie (Children of the Rain).
Re: Light Years
Reply #19. Posted on December 04, 2007, 03:46:24 PM by HarlotBug3
Isaac Asimov did not write Les Hommes-machines contre Gandahar (The Men-Machines Against Gandahar, the 1969 novel on which the film was based). That was by Jean-Pierre Andrevon. All Asimov did was adapt the translation into the English script – which isn't a very creative role; they only hired him so that they could put his name on the poster.

Gandahar, the original, French-language film, has been released on DVD with English subtitles in the UK (cat.# EKA40260; it's restored and anamorphic widescreen and so on). It's region-free (so doesn't require a multi-region player) but it is PAL-format, so won't work on all DVD players and TVs in America and Japan. See here for more info: http://www.eurekavideo.co.uk/moc/catalogue/gandahar

Also, the original soundtrack has been available on CD for some years now, on Gabriel Yared's Film Music Vol. 5 (cat.# CFY005). One can hear a few tracks from it here: http://www.myspace.com/gandaharlesanneeslumiere

And one more thing – here are a couple of links on Caza, the bande dessiner who designed the look of the film: http://www.lambiek.net/artists/c/caza.htm & http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caza
He also designed another animated film, much more recently, called Les Enfants de la pluie (Children of the Rain).


Merci.

Seriously, anyone with even a passing interest in animation and 60-70s era science fiction should buy themselves a VHS of this. I rented it repeatedly as a child and although the animation will seem stiff by today's standards, its story is still engaging.

Re: Light Years
Reply #20. Posted on August 04, 2009, 05:37:05 PM by annoymous
One scene was cut out of the american version and it was a sexually suggestive scene involving Sylvain and Airelle in a pedal of a plant. Its not much missing so its not a big deal like part of the plot or action.
Re: Light Years
Reply #21. Posted on November 29, 2010, 10:38:14 PM by zardoz1970
Great Movie! I first saw this movie in the early 90's. I found a vhs copy for sale in a video store and fell in love.
I picked it up because it was made by the same guy who made Fantastic Planet. Back then it was hard to find
Full length Sci-Fi animated films and Anime had'nt really been made available to general public. People might tend to forget this and judge this movie to harshly. This movie has a great plot and brilliant animation. A must see!
If you ever get the chance, the original French version has scenes that were cut from the American release.
I guess they thought them to graphic for the kiddies.
Re: Light Years
Reply #22. Posted on November 09, 2013, 02:30:12 AM by zelmo73
Does Glenn Close know that she was in this movie?  BounceGiggle
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