Review: Ralph Bakshi’s Wizards
Ralph Bakshi’s Wizards is one of my favorite movies. It is a classic heroes journey tale told by a 1970’s stoner. The movies detractors complain that the animation is awful, the story is uneven, silly characters and it is terribly dated. I agree with only one of these things, the movie did not age well at all. However, I do not think this is a bad thing. Many movies made decades ago are now dated, but still considered classics. The animation of this movies was and is actually very good, it has bright colors and made good use of the tertiary color schemes. The retroscoping was definitely a low point, but really only because it was so different from the rest of the movie.
The story on its surface was simply about good versus evil, two brothers hashing out their differences. However under the surface, we see a world that has been devastated by war, pollution and excesses of greed. A world which is once again on the brink of destruction. While much of the movie is in fact a bit goofy, but there are many iconic scenes that pointed to deeper issues. For instance the scene where Blackwolfs army goes to the church and asks the priests to take the prisoners of war, the priests say “Patience. We must first observe sundown and pray.” and then promptly danced and prayed for hours before the soldiers finally killed the prisoners. This draws attention to how often religion does nothing in the face adversity, preferring instead to pray and let god sort it out, rather than taking action. The classic “They killed Fritz” scene is another good example, it is a satirical look at soldiers dying from friendly fire. The whole movie is a commentary on the dangers of war and unrestrained industrialization.
While I am talking about iconic things, many of the characters are very iconic. Avatar, the wise cracking, cigar smoking hero. Weehawk, the brave and fierce elven warrior. Blackwolf, the most evil man in the world. Necron 99/Peace, the assassin turned good guy. Then of course there was Elinore, I am pretty sure Elinore played a big part in my life during puberty. I can remember at least one conversation at the time about how sexy Princess Leia was and my comment was, “Yeah, I’d do Princess Leia, but I would be thinking about Elinore.”.
In spite of what anyone says Wizards is a great movie, every time I watch it, I see something new and laugh at gags I have seen a dozen times, because they are still funny.