Although it’s been available on Blu-ray, Ralph Bakshi’s 1977 Wizards is being rereleased for its 35th anniversary in a hardcover book package on March 13 from Twentieth Century Fox.
The book includes 24 pages of art from the film, some never-before-seen images, and “a special message from Bakshi”. List price is only $19.99, which means this piece of animated history will be available at a reasonable cost. Presumably, the special features from the previous release — including a commentary track by writer/director Bakshi and a featurette, “Ralph Bakshi: The Wizard of Animation” — will carry over as well.
From what I recall of seeing the film during a midnight screening at college, the movie is much of its time, which gives it a fascinating time-capsule quality today. As described by the marketing:
Set on a post-apocalyptic Earth, this fantasy adventure follows the story of Avatar, the kindly, eccentric sorcerer-ruler of Montagar, a rainbow paradise inhabited by elves and fairies. Avatar’s evil brother Blackwolf dominates Scortch, a bleak land of goblins and wraiths. When the power-hungry Blackwolf attacks Montagar, Avatar, accompanied only by a spirited young woman and a courageous elf, must enter the darkness of Scortch to save his world.
There’s a much lengthier summary at the Wikipedia article. Here’s an example of some of the troops assembled:
As well as one of the more unusual rotoscope-like techniques incorporated:
Also, the “spirited young woman” doesn’t wear much, as shown here.
There’s a comparison to the Nazis in the bad guy’s plan, so note that swastikas and similar imagery are portrayed. My main memory of the film (I suppose this involves a spoiler, but it won’t mean much to you unless you already know the movie) has to do with the film projector the bad guy is using for his nefarious propaganda purposes.
At a key point in the climax, a character cries out, “The projector is destroyed!” At just that moment, our rackety old machine showing the movie broke down, as it tended to do. Kind of spooky at the time, but very apt. Certainly fixed the experience of seeing Wizards in my head.
I 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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