Wizards Ralph Bakshi

Wizards Ralph Bakshi
"This is my kids movie, my family movie," says writer/producer/director Ralph Bakshi of Wizards, his extremely dark fairy tale of magic versus technology set in the far future. It's one part love story between the good wizard Avatar and his apprentice fairy Princess Elinore, and one part battle against his evil brother Blackwolf, with help from heroic third wheel Weehawk and the untrustworthy assassin Peace. The morals are obvious: too much technology can supplant the creative magic of our imaginations, and democracies must remain vigilante for fear that fascism might rise again. It also happens to be groundbreaking animation that helped popularise sci-fi and fantasy films when it was first released into theatres just weeks before Star Wars, as well as experimenting with the medium of animation. Perhaps most controversial was his use of rotoscope or live action footage altered and used behind the animation, which he would put to better use in his animated version of Lord of the Rings. The stock footage he used provided a quick and inexpensive way to show complex scenes, Bakshi reveals on the commentary track, as well as capturing the mood of the scene better than any animation would. Wizards is also interesting for its mix of animation styles: Ian Miller's very detailed backgrounds of the evil wastelands of Scorch evoke Escher; first time animator Brenda Banks creates a unique bunch of Goons; and the scenes for the narrated back story get the simple treatment of being only slightly coloured storyboard-like paintings and drawings. It's also nice to see that Bakshi took a few things with him from his stint animating on the old acid-influenced Spiderman cartoon television series, most specifically the oddly-coloured washed-out skies. That Bakshi, the director of racy films like Fritz the Cat and Street Fighter (aka Coonskin) goes out of his way to provided a very informative audio commentary and an interview featurette is very important in gauging how much favour he gives to his dark, trippy children's fairytale. Plus: commentary and interview featurette with the director, more. (Fox)