The Son of The Stars (Fiul Stelelor/Ultima Misiune) (1987)

One of the advantages of boutique physical releases is that American audiences are able to check out films that they wouldn’t have otherwise been able to before. This year, the never before officially released in the U.S. “The Son of the Stars” makes its way to American shores. The animated adventure described as a “wild mid-80s mash-up of The Empire Strikes Back, Alien and Tarzan” was directed by the creative team of Călin Cazan and Mircea Toia, and features a pretty trippy original score by synth-rock pioneer Stefan Elefteriu. I can safely say while you can see the “Star Wars” influences dripping all over it, it’s a wild experience for any animation buff.

In the year 6470, a husband and wife team of explorers receive a mysterious distress signal from a female astronaut who disappeared decades earlier. They leave their son, Dan, on board their ship while they go searching for the missing woman — but fate intervenes, crash-landing the ship on a jungle-like planet populated by bulbous, telekinetic aliens and eerie stone gardens of frozen space creatures.

In the tradition of films like “Rock & Rule,” and “Starchaser,” directors Călin Cazan and Mircea Toia mix a lot of unique animation styles, including rotoscoping, to give the film a very original flavor from beginning to end. There’s also the fair share of hand drawn animation as Dan’s cohorts, the mysterious alien cyclopses that work as engineers to help Dan’s journey, but are also victims of the horrendous Von Kleefe. There are also space dragons, giant disembodied eyeballs, and space knights, just to name a few. “The Son of the Stars” almost feels like a lost segment from “Heavy Metal” where a lot of the film is based on the classic hero’s journey.

“The Son of the Stars” watches like “Star Wars” if it were realized by Alejandro Jodorowsky. That’s mainly because the film isn’t content with telling one linear tale, but explores various concepts of time travel, and jumping time lines. The journey of Dan is quite fascinating as he’s tasked with finding his parents, and has to also track down the evil Von Kleefe, a sentient alien he vows revenge against. The film still looks fantastic for its age, with some immense visuals punctuating the inherent surrealism of Dan’s intergalactic journey. The directors also integrate classic hand drawn animation in to the repertoire, allowing the film to feel like a bizarre hybrid worthy of Ralph Bakshi.

I can say that the film is a bit long in the tooth, even for seventy eight minutes, but it does compensate with its top notch visuals and interesting conflicts that work hard to subvert tropes. I’d like to know what the final scene indicated, and if they ever planned to film a sequel somewhere down the road. That said, “The Son of the Stars” is a fascinating, often entertaining animated entry in a decade where “Star Wars” was influencing a lot of storytellers and visual artists.

The Romanian National Film Archive and Cinematheque and the Romanian Film Centre, along with Deaf Crocodile work to create a new 4K restoration from the original 35mm camera negative and sound elements, all overseen by Co-Founder and in-house restoration expert Craig Rogers. 

Now available for pre-sale via Deaf Crocodile’s Home Video distribution partner OCN/Vinegar Syndrome in a Limited Edition Slipcover & Standard Edition.