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Western Animation / Time Masters

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Time Masters (Les maîtres du temps) is a 1982 Franco-Hungarian animated film by Rene Laloux and Mœbius, based on Stephan Wul's novel "L'orphelin de Perdide".

Piel and his father are on a distant planet, Perdide, frantically fleeing giant hornets before crashing. Piel's father gives him a small communicator before dying, telling the small boy that its name is Mike and that he needs to listen to everything it says. On the other end is Jaffar, a space captain. On his ship is Bella and her fiance, an exiled prince named Matton and a technical wizard named Silbad. They take on each other and the perils of space's bizarre alien worlds while searching for Piel, and when they find him, the story goes from wacky nightmare fueleriffic space escapades to a Tear Jerker. Be warned.

The film encompasses a great number of themes Laloux is fond of: Mind Screw, Scenery Porn, and Nightmare Fuel.

Tropes related to the movie:

  • Adaptational Attractiveness: in the original novel, Matton is short, scrawny and with pointed teeth that evoke a fish.
  • Adaptational Heroism: in the original novel, Matton is a sadistic coward who tries to drown Claude/Piel For the Evulz. In the movie, he loves Bella and is willing to die to save her; he has enough nobility left for her to say, "I always knew he would die like a brave man - I always hoped he would live like one."
  • Adaptation Name Change: Laloux changed the name of the child from the book. In L'Orphelin du Perdide, the child is Claude Junior. Laloux decided this would be confusing and renamed him Piel.
  • Angelic Aliens: The people of Gamma 10 are faceless Winged Humanoids.
  • Assimilation Plot: Gamma 10 is inhabited by faceless male angels who worship one amorphous, all-controlling being. They capture the heroes and plan to change them into more angels to power their God, which would make lose all sense of their individuality as the faceless angels did— they were once scruffy spacemen.
  • Barbie Doll Anatomy: The faceless angels of Gamma 10 also lack nipples and genitals.
  • Better to Die than Be Killed: Matton insists to fight the faceless angels instead of being absorbed, even though they won't get away with it. Jaffar convinces him that the angels are innocent pawns to the true enemy, their master. Matton accepts this and leaps into the monster, killing them both in the process.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Igor the space explorer suddently stumbles upon Perdide when the planet appeared in front of him, thanks to the Masters of Time. He arrives just in time to save Piel from the giants hornets.
  • Bowdlerize: In the original French version, Silbad sings Piel the song of the Astro Guzzlers, which somewhat raunchily describes the joy of drinking (followed by Jaffar chiding him for "singing those kinds of songs to a child"), and Piel asks what a "guzzler" is, to which Silbad awkwardly explains it means "people who like to drink just a little bit". In the English dub, Silbad's song has been changed to a somewhat more generic song about himself and his travels, though describing himself as an Astro Guzzler, presumably to maintain the continuity of Piel asking him what it means.
  • Burial in Space: Silbad/Piel gets one overlooked by one of the Masters Of Time.
  • Children Are Innocent
  • Companion Cube: "Mike" to Piel.
  • Constantly Curious: Piel, understandably since he has no idea what's going on and is only a poor curious child stuck on a fascinating yet horrifying planet.
  • Covers Always Lie: Promotional poster (seen at the top of this page) shows Silbad holding Piel's hand. They never meet face to face in the movie; they are the same person at different points in time—Piel is rescued by a space explorer and taken away before Jaffar and others reach Perdide, and due to the entire planet being flung into the past, he grows up to become a man named Silbad.
  • Deranged Animation
  • Diabolus ex Machina: Most common complaint about the ending.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The "God" of the faceless angels. Doubles as a Blob Monster.
  • Evil Is Hammy: The speech delivered by the leader of the angels who live on Gamma 10 (at least in the french version)
    The leader: "They will become US! We will become THEM! '''EVERYTHING WILL BE! UNITY!'''."
  • The Faceless: The bizarre angels of Gamma 10.
  • Fallen Prince: Prince Matton. He's on the run from the world he was prince of, with most of its treasury.
  • Foreshadowing: Many times. It's a film dealing with time travel.
    • Silbad explains that the giant hornets on Perdide attacked him long ago. It was when Piel was rescued by the space trucker near the end.
    • He also seem to recognize the "Mike" as an instant communicator. He used it alot when he was Piel.
    • Yual and Jab are telepathic and can detect that the prince gets worse and worse. They can also feel something terrible on Gamma 10 before entering the planet, and terrible it was.
  • Hakuna Matata: Silbad sings one song about the joy of drinking to Piel.
    Jaffar: "Shouldn't you feel ashamed? To sing this kind of song to a child?"
  • Help Yourself in the Future: Silbad provides valuable advice to Piel, having had experience with Perdide. That's because he is Piel, from where Perdide is thrust sixty years into the past.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Jaffar plans to let the faceless turn him into one of them to buy the others time to escape, even though Yula and Jad tell him that won't work. But instead Matton stuns him and jumps into the pit while hating himself, thus killing the hive mind but dying in the process.
  • Insectoid Aliens: The giant hornets inhabiting Perdide, as well as the giant mosquitoes.
  • Knight Templar: The "god" of the faceless angles can't stand individuality and forcefully assimiates any visitor to Gamma 10 to its Hive Mind.
  • Light Is Not Good: The faceless angels on Gamma 10. While they are't evil by themselves, they're controlled by a totalitarian Eldritch Abomination.
  • A Long Time Ago, in a Galaxy Far, Far Away...: doesn't mention Earth but some real life stars are lluded to like a planet called Aldebaran and a race of aliens called Centaurians. Also Silbad sings about Peter Pan and Superman.
  • Loss of Identity: The result of being transformed into a faceless angel.
  • Mass Teleportation: The Time Masters send planets back in time when they colonise them.
  • Meaningful Name: The Planet Perdide. Perdide is the French for "lost," and Piel's lost somewhere on it.
  • Mind Screw: Wait, what? We went on a trip to a planet to save some kid but he's been sent back in time and he was actually the old dude we had with us all along?
  • Missing Mom: We find out that the hornets killed little Piel's mom shortly before the start.
  • My Future Self and Me: Piel and Silbad, played for tragedy.
  • A Nazi by Any Other Name: The governmental patrol that boards Jaffar's vessel after Gamma 10. They even do the salute, as if their black, SS-esque uniforms and oppressive behaviour didn't convince you enough.
  • Objectshifting: Onyx introduces himself and his abilities by transforming into a vase of flowers; as it happens, his part in the plan to gain access to the Reform cruiser is to impersonate a stockpile of treasure.
  • Our Angels Are Different: These angels are actually a Hive Mind created forcibly by an amorphous blob out of people it mind controlled into coming into contact with it.
  • Orphan's Plot Trinket: The egg-shaped radio fits well enough.
  • Planet Spaceship: They end up in a planet sized Space Station divided into two hemispheres.
  • Pointy Ears: Some of the government crew that board Jaffar's ship have them.
  • Prince Charmless: It's hard to consider Matton a decent guy when he tries to drown a child.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Matton. Probably even that wasn't enough.
  • Reused Character Design: Jaffar has the face of Lieutenant Blueberry.
  • Scenery Porn: Combining both Laloux and Mœbius was bound to impress.
  • Shapeshifter Showoff Session: Onyx reveals his powers at the mission briefing by transforming into a vase of flowers, then (at the prompting of the audience) into a miniature replica of Silbad, before finally transforming himself into a pile of treasure that the heroes will use to gain access to the Reform cruiser.
  • Shapeshifting: Onyx uses his powers to impersonate treasure.
  • Sinister Geometry: In the end, the planet by the Masters of Time — two half-spheres and a large glowing cube.
  • Space Pirates: The true nature of the male angels.
  • Subspace Ansible: "Mike" seems to work as one, as all communication with Piel is always instant, or fast enough to allow two-way communication.
  • Technology Porn
  • Those Two Guys: Yula and Jad, who also serve as team pets.
  • Too Spicy for Yog-Sothoth: If the victim hates himself strongly enough, the hive mind that tries to absorb him will kill itself. Apparently Matton had a lot of self-loathing. It didn't save him, though.
  • Twist Ending: Although Jaffar and his crew make it to Perdide, they run into a Timey-Wimey Ball in space just as they reach it. Turns out Perdide has been selected for colonization by the Masters of Time and they do this by sending planets back in time a set amount of years for reasons best known to themselves. In Perdide's case, it's 60 years and this puts Piel in exactly the right place to be rescued by a passing space trucker and become Silbad.
  • What Is This Thing You Call "Love"?: Alien gnomes Yula and Jad at the end say that they felt thousands of emotions, "even though there are only twelve" when Piel/Silbad dies, and the other says they must have really loved him. It's not supposed to be possible for their species.
  • White Hair, Black Heart: Matton, the nearest thing to a human villain the film has.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Matton, considering Piel's rescue a waste of time, tries to drown him by using "Mike" to trick him into a lake. The others stop him and talk Piel back to safety.
    • Not exactly "a waste of time", more like "an unacceptable delay." He has to rendezvous at a given time with the pirates/mercenaries he wants to hire to reconquer his planet.