1980s Sci-Fi Fantasy Epic Being Left Behind Unless Fans Save It

By Charlene Badasie | Updated

The 1987 French animated science fantasy film Gandahar from director René Laloux is an epic story that mainstream viewers often forget. It is based on the 1969 novel Les Hommes-machines contre Gandahar (The Machine-Men versus Gandahar) by Jean-Pierre Andrevon. The movie begins on the planet Gandahar, where a mysterious force suddenly attacks a peaceful civilization.

The Men Of Metal Arrive


The people of Gandahar lived in peace until The Men of Metal descended upon villages to kidnap residents by turning them into stone and carrying them away. The Council of Women in the capital city, Jasper, asks Sylvain to investigate. On his quest, Sylvain comes across the Deformed, a group of people who were an unintended consequence of genetic experiments by Gandahar’s scientists.

The Deformed

Despite harboring resentment toward the people of Gandahar, the Deformed, also being hunted by The Men of Metal, decides to help Sylvain. Along the way, Sylvain rescues Airelle, and by working together, they find that the kidnapped people are being assimilated into more Men of Metal. Traveling further, the pair meets Metamorphis – a giant brain claiming that The Men of Metal are victims too.

Sylvain returns to Jasper, where he discovers that Metamorphis, like the Deformed, was an abandoned creation that is now trying to survive by manipulating the people of Gandahar. As a result of his findings, Sylvain is tasked with killing Metamorphis. He is given the only weapon capable of taking down the giant brain and placed into stasis so he can carry out the murder at the right time.

The Voice Cast


The voice cast of Gandahar features Pierre-Marie Escourrou as Sylvain, with John Shea providing the English voice. Catherine Chevallier plays Airelle, and Jennifer Grey voices her in the English version. Georges Wilson brings Metamorphis to life, and Christopher Plummer lends his voice to the English adaptation.

Gandahar Didn’t Break Any Records

Gandahar received mixed reviews upon its release. The film is rated 6.7 out of 10 on IMDb, with some users praising its unique visual style and imaginative storytelling. In contrast, others criticize its pacing and lack of character development. The film does not have a critic rating on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, though it boasts a 73 percent audience score.

The film was released in the United States in January 1988 under the title Light Years. However, its domestic box office performance was not particularly strong, as it only brought in $370,698. Since Gandahar had a 100 percent domestic share, all of its box office earnings came from the United States.

No United States DVD Releases

Despite its initial lackluster performance, Gandahar found a dedicated fan base over the years who appreciated its artistic qualities and unique storytelling. There were also efforts by enthusiasts to preserve and share the film, such as organizing screenings at film festivals and events dedicated to animation.

In October 2007, Eureka!’s Masters of Cinema label released a European DVD version of Gandahar, featuring the original French audio track with English subtitles. Unfortunately, there were no immediate plans for a Region 1 DVD release, but a Region 0 Korean DVD version became available.

YouTube And Then Nothing

In October 2023, a devoted fan group launched when The Gandahar Restoration Project, which included releasing an English-dubbed version of the film on YouTube. The restoration used video content from the original French DVD release, enhanced to high definition. The English audio track from the Hollywood version of the film was synchronized with the upgraded video.

The film’s score used music from both the French and English releases of Gandahar. Unfortunately, the uploaded restoration was promptly removed from YouTube due to a copyright claim.