Bakshi’s Wizards Airing Thursday on FMC
August 1, 2009

Ralph Bakshi‘s Wizards, the cult-classic animated film about a post-apocalyptic battle between elves and magicians, is airing on Fox Movie Channel Thursday, August 6, at 8 PM Eastern time.

I saw this film in college, and I don’t remember much about it, except for the pneumatic fairy girl in not much clothing and the odd incorporation of WWII footage of Hitler. I suspect, watching it now, I’d find it an attempt to capitalize on Tolkien fandom.

However, one moment, I will never forget. The bad wizard shows propaganda movies to his troops to inspire them. During the climatic battle, one of the good guys shouts out, “The projector has been destroyed!” At that exact moment, the film shut off. It was an old setup and prone to glitches, but I had no idea it knew how to be so apropos.

5 Responses  
Don Vanni writes:  

You’re not far wrong about WIZARDS being influenced by Tolkien. The LOTR books were at the peak of their popularity when Bakshi made this films. Bakshi went on to make the first attempt to film the Trilogy as an animated film (with mixed results). It was also during the peak years of the “psychedelic 60’s”. You can see the influence of counterculture icons such as artist Vaughn Bode and Marvel comics artist Mike Ploog. How anyone can possibly forget how Humphrey Bogart-soundalike good wizard Avatar manages to overcome hie evil twin brother Blackwolf is beyond me though.

Jim Kosmicki writes:  

I still remember that the first time I ever saw Star Wars mentioned was in a small article in the front of an early issue of Starlog that indicated that due to the success of Wizards, 20th Century Fox had good expectations for this upcoming movie from George Lucas.

I like to use this story to remind people of the place for SF movies before Star Wars became STAR WARS. The audience for a Bakshi animated fantasy was assumed to be the same as that for an outer space romp.

What I most remember about this movie is that I was only 12 or 13 and I knew from seeing the characters in mailorder catalogs that it was a total ripoff of Cheech Wizard. Once I actually got to read Cheech Wizard, I was amazed that Bakshi got away with such an obvious case of plagiarism, unless there were payments to the Bode estate that I never read about.

The battle scenes are also an example of the rotoscoping that Bakshi would later use in his Lord of the Rings adaptation. I remember it working much better in this movie.

Johanna writes:  

Don, I admit, I don’t recall the ending at all, but it was late when I saw it, and many many years ago. Thanks for connecting up some of the influences for me.

Jim, that’s hilarious! I love old, forgotten comments like that Starlog mention.

Thom writes:  

As I recall, the WW 2 footage was used as “WW III” footage, showing how the world fell apart and the magical fantasy world was actually supposed to be in the future.

Ralph Bakshi’s Wizards Gets a Blu-ray Anniversary Package » DVDs Worth Watching writes:  

[…] told that story before, when we talked about Wizards airing on cable. Bakshi also animated The Lord of the Rings in 1978, which is also available on home video. […]


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