The Most Visually Beautiful Animated Films: 46-42

 (Image from the short film anthology, Genius Party Beyond (2008) )

Well, without further ado let’s continue slowly down the list.

46. French title: La Planète sauvage, Czech title : Divoká planeta (Fantastic Planet), 1973

Co-released by France and the Czech Republic and directed by Rene Laloux, Fantastic Planet is an allegorical film based on the novel Oms en serie (1957) by Stefen Wul. This is a cutout stop motion film meant to address the racial and social tensions present throughout The Cold War.  The imagery is very surreal, meaning the visuals were purposefully made illogical and distorted in order to hide a deeper, symbolic truth.

I have talked about surrealist film and art before before. My take on it is. . . as opened minded as my brain allows. I am not a fan of this art form. I find it tiring and overbearing. But, I do acknowledge its genius and mark on artistic history. For example, Salvidor Dali has impressive art pieces like The Persistence of Memory (1931) which I like. Could I hang it on my wall? No. I would go cross-eyed every time I saw it.

Looking at the stilled frames for Fantastic Planet is like taking a walk through my dreams. Well, my strangest dreams. There is a lot to admire in this movie like the use of colors and unique visuals. But this film is not for me. I tried to watch it once. The modern jazz like musical score and impressionist film style gave me a head ache within five minutes. Needless to say, I gave up.

Do not let my artistic tastes dissuade you from seeing this movie. Who knows, perhaps this is your type of film. Regardless, I think this movie can be considered beautiful in its own way. It just depends on a person’s perspective.



45. Watership Down, 1978

This movie and I go way back. For the better part of my life I cursed its name, remembering the horrible nightmares it gave me as a child. Produced, written and directed by Martin Rosen, this is another allegorical piece based on a famous novel by the same name. The original author Richard Adams wrote his novel as an allegory reminiscent of classics like the epic poetry by Homer and Virgil.

To the movie. This is not a film meant for children. They cannot truly understand the symbolism and meaning behind much of its story. It is frightening, but not a horrible movie. In fact, it is a great movie poorly misread by American movie goers as a children’s film. (Not all animated movies are made for or meant for children.)

The imagery is actually very beautiful in parts of the film. Having seen it perhaps eight months ago, I marveled at some of the scenes like Fiver’s vision of their warren’s demise and Hazel’s death. The only reason I hesitated to place it on my own personal list is the frightening imagery in places and the watered down colors. It looks rather bland much of the time. Otherwise, I would recommend this film with a warning to not expect a children’s film about bunnies. It is something much deeper than that.



44. Akira, 1988

Directed by Katsuhiro Otomo and co-written by Izo Hashimoto, this is one of the most famous animated films ever done. Released as a cyberpunk action film, it depicts a dystopian world set in Tokyo, Japan in 2019. This is a cult classic and considered by many to be one of the greatest animated and science fiction films ever done.

I have never seen this movie for a very simple reason. I do not watch rated “R” movies. As it is, I know the story, characters and much of the violence would bother me and cause me to hate it anyway. It is better to stay as I am now: admiring it from afar as a landmark in animation.

Is this a visually beautiful film? Again, depends on who you talk to. The color palet and dystopian imagery is certainly impressive. They created over 200 different colors just for this movie. For myself, the style is too gritty for me. (I will use this word a lot). I prefer graceful lines and curves. Though I believe there is a beauty that can be found in ugliness, for this movie I do not see it. As it is, I do not think the creators wanted to make a beautiful film.


43. 火垂るの墓 Hotaru no haka (Grave of the Fireflies), 1988

Directed by the famous Isao Takahata, this film appeared alongside his colleague Hayao Miyazaki’s My Neighbor Totoro at the box office. Set in post World War II, it is considered by Roger Ebert to be one of the greatest war movies ever made. I remember watching this movie four or so years ago. Oh, how I cried. Rather than finding it beautiful I found it tragic, seeing that many of the main characters’ misfortunes could have been avoided.

Many will wonder why I did not include Totoro on this list alongside this film. Well, I went back and looked over the imagery for both films and found this movie’s visuals to be the more impressive of the two. Japanese animation in the 1980’s still had the rough around the edges vibe to it but I think Fireflies provided eye-opening scenes despite its time.

Though I think his film is impressive, I do not find its imagery aesthetically beautiful. However, it’s animation and imagery depicting Japan’s wounded landscape and people are unforgettable. If you have not seen this movie I wholeheartedly recommend it. Keep in mind though that this is a historical drama and does not have a happy ending. Historically, however, it is quite facsinating.



42. Aladdin, 1993

It is no secret among my family members and friends that I am not an avid fan of this film.  (I need to watch it again. It has been too long). I like its music and its animation but not most of its characters or story. But, I still cannot ignore its evocative imagery. Actually based on an Arabian folktales that took place in China, Disney animators gave the movie a Jazzy feel supported visually by Arabian styled cities and landscapes.

I do like the colors in this film and think the background art is fantastic. The layout supervisor Rasoul Azadani designed much of the film after his hometown Isfahan, Iran in order to capture the swirling styles in Arabic writing and architecture. Though I find all these things fascinating, I think it suffered visually when they combined computer graphics with hand drawn scenes. Some parts like Aladdin and Jasmine’s magic carpet ride are ruined, for me, when they put in computer graphics to save on time.

Though I do not particularly like this movie, I do believe it has beautiful scenes and moments. Sadly, it is inconsistent in its handling of these places, as much of the beauty is lost with the computer graphics.




  1. Josh W says:

    Watership Down scared me as a kid too. Wouldn’t mind revisiting it at some point – those screenshots certainly make it look awful pretty.

    1. aubreym3 says:

      I had nightmares for weeks when I saw it as a child. But as an adult, it proved to be a very insightful watch.

  2. Woah, where did you find that poster of La Planète Sauvage? Never seen that one and it’s awesome. Do you know the artist that made it?
    Nice post by the way!

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