FUNNY ANIMALS AND MORE
November 30, 2014 posted by

French Animation. Part 6: 1981 – 1985

Continuing my survey of French animation productions – this week French masters René Laloux and Jean Image are joined by the likes of Bill Hanna and Joseph Barbera!

Minoïe, directed by Jean Jabely and Philippe Landrot. 80 minutes. December 20, 1981.

Minoïe is described by the French edition of Wikipedia as, “humorous and ecological, in which the stupid, evil sovereign of an industrialized, militaristic island finds himself in rivalry with the inhabitants of the neighboring island who live a simple, back-to-nature life.” (my translation).

minoieTwo islands, apparently in the South Pacific, are called “l’Île heureuse” (The Happy Isle) and “l’île du Père”, named after the wise old man who guides its inhabitants. His Highness, the Prince of the industrialized island, has a beautiful palace made of plastic, with mechanical birds, because he is allergic to nature. He governs with the Big Computer and with Madame Astrac, his astrologer. His island is covered with cameras so he can spy everywhere on his dissatisfied people. One day he sees Minoïe, a revolutionary but also very beautiful. He has her taken to his palace (which does not impress her) to become his queen, less because he loves her than that he needs an heir. Meanwhile Tom, a handsome fisherman from the other island, is driven by a storm to accidentally land near the palace. The Prince’s attempt to romance Minoïe is interrupted by Tom’s pet bird, which he is allergic to (and tells Minoïe that their children also will be allergic to). Tom and Minoïe meet, fall in love, and are helped to escape together by the Big Computer and Madame Astrac, who have tired of the Prince’s idiocies. The Prince, furious, orders his “Grand Marchepied” (he presumably means Grand Marshall, but “grand marchepied” means “big footstep”) to capture them immediately.

The marshall sends Agent 18 and Agent 49 to Father’s Isle to get them, but the two spies are so delighted by the beauties of nature that they defect. The Prince, even more furious, personally sails on his Grand Admiralissimo’s humongous warship to Father’s Isle, which he threatens to conquer if Minoïe does not surrender in five minutes. Just as she is about to surrender to save her friends, the Prince gets a radio message from the Big Computer and Madame Astrac that they have deposed him to “il faudrait enlever toute responsabilité à un con tel que vous!” (roughly, “save our island from a [censored] like you!”). The Prince, now really furious, throws off the Grand Admiralissimo and sails back to reconquer the Happy Isle; but the Grand Admiralissimo, fed up, joins the new government and detonates a shipboard atomic self-destruct by remote control. Minoïe and Tom, more-or-less forgotten by the Happy Islanders, live on Father’s Isle happily ever after.

Minoïe was produced from 1973 to 1979, but not released until 1981.


Les Maîtres du Temps (Time Masters), directed by René Laloux. 78 minutes. March 24, 1982.

Laloux’s Les Maîtres du Temps was based on another s-f novel by Stefan Wul, L’Orphelin de Perdide (The Orphan of Perdide), a 1958 surrealistic space opera with even more surrealistic art design by Jean “Möbius” Giraud; produced by Pannónia Filmstúdió in Budapest.

l_84315_f473ac72On the planet Perdide, Claude is racing across the desert in his six-wheeled vehicle while talking over a communicator with his close friend Jaffar, in a spaceship several planetary systems away. Claude, a space explorer, tells Jaffar that “they” have just killed his wife, Annie; and he is escaping with their son, Piel, while being pursued by deadly giant hornets. Just before reaching a coral-like forest and safety, Claude crashes. Trapped, he tells Piel, too young to understand what is happening, to run into the forest with “Mike, a magic talking egg” (Claude’s communicator), and to do whatever Mike tells him to. Piel reaches the forest as the vehicle explodes. The child is safe from the hornets, but the forest has its own dangers.

Jaffar, a freelance space pilot, has been travelling with Prince Matton and his sister, Princess Belle. Matton, an arrogant ex-ruler, has just been deposed and exiled from his planet. He has taken a treasure with him that he plans to use to finance his return. When Jaffar gets the emergency call from Claude, he diverts to rescue Piel, to Matton’s displeasure. Before going to Perdide, Jaffar stops at another planet to get advice from his friend Silbad, an old man familiar with Perdide. Silbad finds it easier to join them than to give them instructions. Two of Silbad’s planet’s natives, the fairylike sprites Yula and Jad, stow away in Jaffar’s spaceship, the Double Triangle 22.

The humans try to talk Piel into staying safe, although when he is alone, Prince Matton tries to trick Piel into killing himself so Jaffar will resume taking the royals to their destination. Belle intervenes, starting a romance with Jaffar.

After many adventures with space pirates rescued from Gamma-10, hostile space troops pursuing Matton, Matton’s death, and Silbad’s mortal injury, the group on the Double Triangle 22 run into the mysterious Time Masters who have just sent Perdide sixty years into the past. It looks like Piel is lost, but Jaffar and Belle realize as Silbad is dying that he is Piel grown up, who has lived a full life. Silbad is “buried” in space.


La Revanche des Humanoides (Revenge of the Humanoids), directed by Albert Barillé. 100 minutes. January 26, 1983.

This feature was a condensation of episodes #21 through #26 of the 26-episode TV series Il Était une Fois… l’Espace (Once Upon a Time… Space), a co-production of France’s Procidis and Japan’s Eiken studios that did the animation. It was shown on prime-time French TV from October 9, 1982 to April 2, 1983, and on Japanese TV as a morning children’s cartoon, Ginga Patrol PJ, daily from July 17 to August 22, 1984.

Around 3000 A.D., the Omega Confederation, of which Earth is a member, is led by President Pierrette. Colonel Pierre, her husband, is the commander of its Galaxy Patrol. Their son, Pierrot (Peter), is a young lieutenant (later captain) in the GP. He, his precognitive girlfriend Psi, and Métro (an android with a positronic brain, often dismissed as a robot, smarter than his inventor, Prof. Maestro), are the best team in the GP at defending the Confederation from its enemies, chiefly the militant Republic of Cassiopeia, led by General The Pest and his dwarf henchman.

In this Star Wars-ish story arc, Pierrot, Psi, and Métro are returning to Omega from a routine mission when they run into gigantic Death Star-like Cassiopeian spaceships practicing military maneuvers. They observe to report this to Omega, but the backlash from the energy blasts throws them out of control and they crash on a primitive planet. Psi is captured by Cassiopeian Humanoid allies, while Pierrot and Métro join a mostly-human rebel underground that is fighting both the planet’s hostile natives and the Humanoids. But the Humanoids have their own plans which neither Omega nor Cassiopeia expect.


Bonne Journée, Monsieur M, directed by Heidi Blomqvist. 56 minutes. 1983.

Here is another mystery title, listed only on IMDb and several “watch now free” download sites that Jerry Beck says don’t work. The only other listing for Heidi Blomqvist is also on IMDb, which says that she was/is a little girl who played an elementary-school student in a Finnish live-action TV series in 1998. It doesn’t seem that it could be the same person. Anyone have info on this film? Is it another bogus title?


Les Dalton en Cavale (The Daltons On the Loose), directed by Joseph Barbara & William Hanna, Morris, and Ray Patterson. 82 minutes. December 14, 1983.

lucky-luke-daltonThis was released theatrically in France, but was a Hanna-Barbara co-production with Dargaud Films, Gaumont Film Company, and France 3. Produced at Hanna-Barbera in Los Angeles? Any information would be appreciated.

The feature is just an animated compilation of three Lucky Luke albums by Morris & Goscinny: Les Dalton dans le Blizzard (LL #22, 1963); Ma Dalton (LL #38, 1971); and Les Dalton se Rachetent (The Daltons Reform; LL #26, 1965). In the first, the four Daltons break out of prison and escape to Canada, followed by Luke and the prison’s comedy-relief guard dog, Ran Tan Plan. Lots of Frozen Northland and Canadian Mounties jokes follow. Luke returns them to the prison, but in the second the Daltons escape again and hide out with their old mother. Luke is handicapped because he won’t hit a sweet old lady, even when she’s an old £#¢∞¡§¶. In the third, the Daltons have to be paroled when they swear that they’ve reformed. Nobody really believes them, so Luke agrees to follow and rearrest them at the first sign that they’re pretending. The trouble is that none of the townsfolk believe them, either. Luke has to manufacture opportunities for them to show that they’ve reformed before he can be sure that they’re faking it; while the Daltons grow so frustrated trying to prove they’ve turned honest that they almost do for real.

Note that in this 1983 film clip, Luke is chewing on a straw instead smoking a cigarette as in the previous Lucky Luke movies. The PC police caught up with him.


Le Secret des Sélénites (Moon Madness), directed by Jean Image. 82 minutes. February 1, 1984.

Image’s sequel to his 1979 Les Fabuleuses Aventures du Légendaire Baron de Munchausen, very loosely based on the Baron’s and his companions’ later adventures after they got to the Moon. Image jettisons the 1780s tall tales for a new plot involving Sirius, the Baron’s astrologer cousin (set in 1787 but the Baron and Sirius dance a jitterbug); the immortal bright yellow, three-legged Sélénites; and the evil Vertprés (Green Meanies).

This was the last feature of the animator Jean Image (Imre Hadjú, 1910-1989). Music by Shuki Levy & Haïm Saban, who would go on to greater fame in America.


Les Boulugres, directed by Jean Hurtado. 75 minutes. March 6-10, 1984.

Very avant-garde art design and screenplay by Jean Hurtado. Herbert, a Candide-like idealistic teenager, wants to become a doctor to help humanity, but his parents insist that he become a rich aviator. Herbert runs away to study medicine with a wise old Boulugre, and vows to help the natives of undeveloped countries. He finds that the Boulugres are a tribe whose men have a disgusting mushroom growing from their heads. He develops a vaccine for them, wants to give it to them free, and fights with Chousk, a pharmaceutical tycoon who wants to sell it to them. But the Boulugres are deathly afraid of needles and refuse to be inoculated by anyone. Herbert, disillusioned, escapes into love with a Yugoslav airline stewardess.

Les Boulugres was produced from 1979 through 1983, but it was never theatrically released. It was screened at the 9th Festival du Film d’Humour de Chamrousse, March 6-10, 1984.


Gwen (le Livre de Sable) (Gwen, the Book of Sand), directed by Jean-François Laguionie. 67 minutes. February 6, 1985.

Jean-François Laguionie (1939-present) began his career during the Belvision years, though he is better-known as a fine-art animation creator than as a commercial director. He was inspired by Paul Grimault’s early 1950s release of La Bergère et le Ramoneur (The Shepherdess and the Chimneysweep). His first animated short, the 9-minute La Demoiselle et le Violoncelliste (The Girl and the Cellist), won the Annecy Grand Prix in 1965. He made several other animated shorts through the 1980s, climaxing with the 24-minute La Traversée de l’Atlantique à la Rame (Rowing Across the Atlantic), which won the César Award for best animated short in 1979, in 1978.

Laguionie then started making features, creating his own animation studio, La Fabrique, to do so. His first was the dramatic 67-minute Gwen (le Livre de Sable), animated in gouache paintings with the assistance of well-known French artists. Since it is almost impossible to animate gouache paintings, the animation is very limited but beautiful. Gwen shared the Grand Jury/Critics Prize with Richard Condie’s The Big Snit at the 1985 Festival International du Film d’Animation d’Annecy/Annecy International Animation Film Festival.

Gwen is a 13-year-old girl adopted by a tribe of desert nomads that hunt ostriches, living in a post-apocalyptic world. A mysterious being, the Makou (Terrible Thing), occasionally rains huge enlargements of common 20th-century objects such as a telephone, a suitcase, a mattress, a washbasin, a coffee pot, a clock, or a radiator from the sky. One day Gwen’s best friend, the boy Nok-Moon, disappears; apparently kidnapped by the Makou. Gwen sets out with Roseline, an old woman, to find him. They find an isolated city inhabited by people trying to maintain the old civilization, based on a single ancient book – a “Manufrance” retail catalogue showing objects like those the Makou is dropping …


Astérix et la Surprise de César (Astérix and Caesar; Astérix versus Caesar), directed by Gaëtan & Paul Brizzi. 79 minutes. December 11, 1985.

The production credits now read Dargaud Films, Gaumont International, and Gutenberghus. The movie was adopted mainly from the albums Astérix Gladiateur (#4, 1964), and Astérix Légionnaire (#10, 1967).

Obélix falls in love with Chief Vitalstatix’s beautiful daughter Panacea, but is resigned to being just a friend when he learns that she loves handsome Tragicomix. The two, walking in the woods, are captured by a squad of Roman soldiers led by a new recruit unfamiliar with the Gauls. The Roman Centurion, horrified by the expected Gaul’s attack to get them back, sends Panacea and Tragicomix as far away as he can – to the other side of the Roman Empire, in the Sahara Desert. Astérix and Obélix (with Idéfix the dog), sent to find the lovers, join the Roman legions to do so. Jokes from Astérix Légionnaire follow. Meanwhile, Panacea and Tragicomix escape, are captured by a slave trader, and are sold to the head of Rome’s Gladiator School who gives them to Julius Caesar to ingratiate him; but the two Gauls anger Caesar and he orders them fed to the lions in the Colosseum. Astérix & Obélix leave the legion and follow the lovers to Rome, where the head of the Gladiator School is so impressed by their strength that he orders them captured for the Colosseum. Obélix & Idéfix escape, while Astérix loses his magic potion and is captured. That night there is a heavy rainstorm that almost drowns Astérix in his cell, and sweeps Idéfix into Rome’s sewers just as he is about to find the potion. In the Colosseum’s arena (which has an exciting chariot race), Asterix & Obélix, who has joined him, make a laughing stock of the Roman Games through trickery. Just as the irate Caesar orders the lions released, Idéfix arrives with the potion. Astérix, Obélix, and Tragicomix cause so much destruction that Caesar gives him their freedom to return to Gaul, to get rid of them.

Next week: A seasonal interruption.

12 Comments

  • In January 1992, I made my only trip to France, to attend the International Comics Festival in Angoulême. One of my discoveries was that the French had a chain of highly decorated Lucky Luke hamburger fast-food restaurants – I think. You could hardly see the “No Smoking” signs and other artwork for the thick haze of cigarette smoke in the restaurants.

    I’m told that France enforces its laws against smoking in restaurants today. I’ll take their word for it.

  • Here are the full credits for the Lucky Luke film. They give an idea who did what and where. It would appear that the voice/music titles were added later than the other production credits.

    http://megara-web.eu/images/lucky.jpg

    Anybody have an idea what kind of studio “Filman” was?

  • Filman was a studio in Madrid, Spain, headed by Carlos Alfonso and Juan Pina, who did a lot of animation for Hanna-Barbera between the early 70’s and the mid-80’s. Among their credits there are such series as THE BUFORD FILES, LITTLE RASCALS, THE PAW PAWS, THE SMURFS and THE JETSONS (their 80’s revival) and specials like SNOW WHITE MEETS THE GLOBETROETTERS, YOGI’S FIRST CHRISTMAS and THE FLINTSTONES NEW NEIGHBORS. They also worked in the 26-episode LUCKY LUKE series co-produced between H-B and Gaumont; the feature LES DALTON EN CAVALE consists actually of three episodes from that series edited together. In 1986 Alfonso and Pina dissolved their partnership; Alfonso set up his won studio, Alfonso Productions, doing animation mainly for UK producer Cosgrove-Hall (COUNT DUCKULA, AVENGER PENGUINS, FANTOMCAT, etc.) as well as for other international clients until it closed shop in 2002.

    • Thanks for the information! I was able to find an interview with Carlos Alfonso:

      http://www.animationmagazine.eu/entrevista-con-carlos-alfonso-lopez-leyenda-viva-de-la-animacion-espanola/carlosalfonso/

      Through Google Translate I read that he had to close the studio because everyone shifted to Asian production, and that he is now retired. He also says he probably wouldn’t do another animated film, because it would most likely have to be a 3D film, and he prefers 2D animation. When he was in the US before 1971 he made a close friendship with Bill Hanna.

    • Thanks Alfons, didn’t know H-B had them to go to besides their Aussie/Asian outfits. Also remember Carlos Alfonso’s name from Count Duckula too!

      Through Google Translate I read that he had to close the studio because everyone shifted to Asian production, and that he is now retired. He also says he probably wouldn’t do another animated film, because it would most likely have to be a 3D film, and he prefers 2D animation.
      His reasons are valid. At least he won’t have to deal with Flash!

      When he was in the US before 1971 he made a close friendship with Bill Hanna.
      That could do it!

  • After many adventures with space pirates rescued from Gamma-10, hostile space troops pursuing Matton, Matton’s death, and Silbad’s mortal injury, the group on the Double Triangle 22 run into the mysterious Time Masters who have just sent Perdide sixty years into the past. It looks like Piel is lost, but Jaffar and Belle realize as Silbad is dying that he is Piel grown up, who has lived a full life. Silbad is “buried” in space.

    The fact the film ends like this has been rather a hit or miss with fans it seems. You could tell it was leading up to it once that happens and seems like such a cop-out, and makes the Time Masters (or the Masters of Time as the English dub calls them) seem like complete bastards in their little ‘real estate’ scheme! Still I have to give Laloux credit on something a little more ambitious and unique with Mobius’ designs. The Hungarian staff wasn’t too bad, though it could’ve been better (needed more 1’s).

    This feature was a condensation of episodes #21 through #26 of the 26-episode TV series Il Était une Fois… l’Espace (Once Upon a Time… Space), a co-production of France’s Procidis and Japan’s Eiken studios that did the animation. It was shown on prime-time French TV from October 9, 1982 to April 2, 1983, and on Japanese TV as a morning children’s cartoon, Ginga Patrol PJ, daily from July 17 to August 22, 1984.

    What made “Once Upon A Time… Space” a little interesting was in how it differed from most of the other series in having a narrative that wasn’t entirely based around a dramatic story rather than an educational premise (being science fiction), though the show still had some for of education in discussing planets and other space stuff I’m sure. Michel Legrand’s music certainly helps too, he would also score later Procidis’ productions in the “Once Upon A Time…” franchise.

    Though I never saw this movie or the TV series itself as a kid, I see the film did get an airing on Nickelodeon’s “Special Delivery”, the only way any of this stuff ever came to us I feel.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gUROkDFl87o

    This was released theatrically in France, but was a Hanna-Barbara co-production with Dargaud Films, Gaumont Film Company, and France 3. Produced at Hanna-Barbera in Los Angeles? Any information would be appreciated.

    I only only assume H-B got into another co-production much in the way The Smurfs and Cantinflas were before, there’s been a few others co-pros the did in the 80’s like The Snorks, SuperTed and Don Coyote. Aside from the movie, H-B also worked on the TV series that ran for 26 episodes. The series never saw airplay in the US, though a rare VHS release came out around 2000 from a company called “Woodhaven Entertainment”, I use to had these recordings but you can see all the episodes on eBay. A second series of sorts was produced in the early 90’s but H-B was not involved in it.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KwBlktq7v4o

    The animation in this film was however farmed out to a studio called “Filman”, I think in Spain judging by the names in the end credits (at least they didn’t use their Aussie satellite or some Asian studio this time). The film also saw very vague airings in the US sometime in the mid 80’s.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=63gcFBPvvqc

    Here’s the English version by the way (I’m sure someone’ll pick out the voices here)!
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qffWLr_couo

    This was the last feature of the animator Jean Image (Imre Hadjú, 1910-1989). Music by Shuki Levy & Haïm Saban, who would go on to greater fame in America.
    Saban and Levy also worked on the Lucky Luke music as mentioned previous. But yes, an interesting swansong for Image to go out with this surreal dance sequence!
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_nviw67-Lrc

    The production credits now read Dargaud Films, Gaumont International, and Gutenberghus. The movie was adopted mainly from the albums Astérix Gladiateur (#4, 1964), and Astérix Légionnaire (#10, 1967)

    The film itself was also produced at a newly-formed studio set up by Gaumont at the time I believe (or maybe for the follow-up “Asterix in Britain”).

    • I’ve never read Stefan Wul’s “The Orphan of Perdide” (have any of Wul’s French s-f novels besides “Fantastic Planet” been translated into English?), so I don’t know how closely “The Time Masters” sticks to its plot.

    • Considering that all of the articles about the legendary Baron Munchausen say that the real von Münchhausen hated the reputation that Raspe’s and Bürger’s 1780s tales gave him as either a flamboyant liar or a lunatic, I can only imagine what his reaction would have been to “Le Secret des Sélénites”!

    • Indeed Gaumont set up a studio in Paris to handle animation on ASTERIX VS. CAESAR and ASTERIX IN BRITAIN. Although it was originally planned to close the studio after completing both features, yet a third feature was made in 1989 by Gaumont, ASTERIX ET LE COUP DU MENHIR (ASTERIX AND THE BIG FIGHT), in co-production with Germany. The following Asterix feature, ASTERIX CONQUERS AMERICA (1994) was entirely produced in Germany.

  • Don’t forget about Andre Lindon’s film The Invisible Child. For some reason it’s not on the now-compartmentalized List of Animated Feature Films on Wikipedia. I think it was on the old list. It came out in 1984. I hope people are still paying attention to this thread as it’s been a couple of days.

  • Hello Fred,
    concerning the 56 minutes-feature “Bonne Journée Monsieur M” :

    it’s a program of 6 short films (from France, Canada and Swiss) released in 1999. It contains :

    – “Lucrétia” (1987) by Heidi Blomkvist (with a k)
    – “L’invité” (1983) by Guy Jacques
    – “Bonne journée Monsieur M” (1999) by Samuel Guillaume & Frédéric Guillaume
    – “Toro de nuit” (1996) by Philippe Archer
    – “Haut Pays des Neiges” (1990) by Bernard Palacios
    – “Comme un pixel sur la soupe” (1999) by Nathalie Pat & Denis Walgenwitz

    There was simply a confusion between the first director’s name and the title of Guillaume brothers film.

    Source : http://www.encyclocine.com/index.html?menu=72608&film=30872

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