Friday, March 2, 2012

Wizards, Magicians and Warlocks, Oh My!

DELVE INTO RALPH BAKSHI’S CULT CLASSIC
LIKE NEVER BEFORE
The Fantastical Allegory Comes to Life for the First Time
On Blu-ray March 13

THE DARK SIDE OF TOONTOWN
It’s likely when you think of animated movies; your mind goes right to the typical Disney fare and the Looney Tunes. But Ralph Bakshi’s cult classic Wizards is a science fantasy film about the battle between two wizards, one representing the forces of magic and one representing the forces of industrial technology. The 1977 post-apocalyptic-themed animated movie has a rather heavy subject matter for cartoons, but it’s not the first animated attempt at a darker tone. There is a little irony in seeing these twisted tales played out by cartoons but it never diminishes their entertainment value. Take a look at these other cartoons characters that have wrestled with the questions of the ages:
 

BATMAN: MASK OF THE PHANTASM

Before Christian Bale picked up the cowl, this animated theatrical release was widely considered the Dark Knight's best big screen story. Batman is battling the mob and coping with relationships as only he knows how, but in cartoon form, it feels far more nostalgic for the comic it is based on. 
 
AKIRA

1988’s Akira is a King among Japan’s anime kingdom. Even held to today’s standards, the animation is shockingly real, despite being hand-drawn. As the movie takes place in a repressed Tokyo circa 2019, there is plenty of opportunity for the animators to show off a lavish dark side. 

SPIRITED AWAY

Spirited Away surprised no one when it won 2003’s Best Animated Feature Oscar®. The film tells the story of Chihiro Ogino, a sullen 10-year-old girl who becomes trapped in an alternate reality, inhabited by spirits and monsters. After her parents are transformed into pigs by a witch, Chihiro takes a job working in Yubaba's bathhouse to find a way to free herself and her parents and escape back to the human world.  

THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS

Nobody’s name is more synonymous with “dark” than Nightmare’s writer/producer Tim Burton. Second only to Burton would be Danny Elfman, who added his usual swirling, ominous touch to the film’s score. What arrives on the screen is an ironic Halloween/Christmas mash-up that Disney showcases every year in “4-D” at its El Capitan Theater in Hollywood.  

Persepolis 

Persepolis is a 2007 French/American animated film based on Marjane Satrapi’s autobiographical graphic novel of the same name. The story follows a young girl as she comes of age against the backdrop of the Iranian Revolution. The English version of the film features the voice talents of Sean Penn, Gena Rowlands and… Iggy Pop! 

THE TRIPLETS OF BELLEVILLE

When her grandson is kidnapped during the Tour de France, Madame Souza and her beloved pooch Bruno team up with the Belleville Sisters--an aged song-and-dance team from the days of Fred Astaire--to rescue him.

FRITZ THE CAT

Before Ralph Bakshi would make Wizards, he would stir up controversy with 1972’s X-rated animated feature, Fritz the Cat, about Fritz, a feline in mid-1960s New York City who explores the ideals of hedonism and sociopolitical consciousness. Despite racy content, it remains the most successful independent animated feature of all time, grossing over $100 million worldwide.


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