Legendary and groundbreaking animator Ralph Bakshi's Wizards is the tale of a war between supernatural siblings set in a post-apocalyptic Earth populated by elves, fairies and mutants. Combining traditional cell animation with Bakshi's unique conversion of live film footage into striking, high-contrast animation, Wizards is both whimsical and sinister. This cult favorite from the director of Fritz the Cat (1972) and The Lord of the Rings (1978) celebrates 35 years since it first enchanted animation fans. Starring the voices of Mark Hamill, Susan Tyrrell and Richard Romanus.
Although Ralph Bakshi's reputation as a figure in animation history has declined over the years, Wizards
(1977) has long enjoyed a cult following. The plot follows a long-prophesied postapocalyptic battle between twin brothers: Blackwolf, an evil sorcerer, and Avatar, a good wizard. Drawn into the conflict are overendowed fairy princess Elinore, elf Weehawk, and Necron 99/Peace (a minion of Blackwolf's whom Avatar has converted to good). The story wanders and stumbles aimlessly: although the fate of the world lies in the balance, Avatar dithers like a borscht-belt comic doing shtick. Visually, the film is a mishmash of cartoony animation (much too cartoony for a dramatic narrative), processed live action, still artwork, and old newsreel footage of Adolph Hitler. Before 1977, the only American animated film that offered fantasy fans the period conflict they sought was Disney's Sleeping Beauty
filled a gap. Decades later, countless anime series, from Dragon Ball
to Fullmetal Alchemist
, have presented epic battles between the forces of good and evil with more effective animation, better stories, more sophisticated visual styles, flashier effects, and more skillful direction. Baby boomers who remember watching Wizards
as kids may derive a nostalgic pleasure from revisiting it; other viewers will find a dated oddity, as passé as a Nehru jacket. (Rated PG: violence, violence against women, tobacco use, potentially offensive religious and Nazi imagery) --Charles Solomon