An homage to Tolkien
Bakshi’s Wizards takes place on Earth 2 million years after a great nuclear war destroyed all life on Earth. The sun was concealed for some time by radioactive clouds and in the midst of darkness, surviving humans mutated in order to survive in their new world. They thrived in the festering areas of the planet as fairies, elves, and dwarves maintained a joyful existence in the “good lands”, or the cleaner areas of the world.
This happiness angered Blackwolf (Steve Gravers), Avatar’s (Bob Holt) dark brother, so profoundly that he declared war on those who basked in the happiness and light of the planet, and ordered the death sentence for anyone who believed in magic.
Blackwolf discovered footage of Hitler and the Nazi regime to adapt a destructive war machine–using the film to strike fear in the hearts of the gentle people of Montagar in order to salvage their lands and rule over the inhabitants, rather than living among them in peace. While Blackwolf embraced technology, Avatar and his people shunned it, citing that harmony with nature is the true way of the land. This perception is put to the test when war descends upon the peaceful people and the battle for survival begins again.
Wizards is a warning against relying on technology
Wizards is a “high-fantasy” science fiction animation developed by Bakshi in 1966. He noted Wizards is an “homage to Tolkien” as he understood it and wanted to create a sci-fi fantasy for kids in the in the 1970’s. The content in this animated film may go beyond the PG-13 rating by today’s standards due to the bursts of extreme violence, war, and scandalously clad fairy creatures. It even contains suggestive dialogue many parents wouldn’t find suitable for younger audiences.
Bakshi’s film purposes that technology is the root of all evil and led to the destruction of mankind. Blackwolf uses the ‘ancient’ technology of the 20th century to make war on the peaceful people of Montegar. Evidenced by the different animated styles Bakshi’s chose are reflective of the different animated technologies at the time. Blackwolf and his horde of mutant soldiers are rotoscoped, a method of animation where animators trace over live-action film, mimicking movement seen in the real world. Avatar and the forces of good are depicted using traditional cell animation, to give the character a softened, more humane appearance.
Wizards an animated sci-fi fantasy set in post-apocalyptic Earth
20th Century Fox’s first-ever animated film, Wizards, appears as a 35th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray and is in magnificent high-definition, though the transfer to Blu-ray isn’t without its flaws: the colors fade in some areas and the texture can appear distorted and grainy in others. Even if the film has fragments of inconsistencies, it is still visually impressive, also a unique method of storytelling.
Along with the Blu-ray disc comes an impressive extra–a 24-page collectible book that features his story on how Wizards made it to the big screen. It is an absolute must have for fans of his previous films: his debut feature animated film Fitz the Cat (1972); Lord of the Rings (1978); American Pop (1981) and a few others. The film also features the voice talent of Mark Hamill (Star Wars Saga) as Sean. The only complaint I have is there wasn’t any additional material on the disc. However, the 24-page book is filled with never-before-seen artwork.
Ralph Bakshi’s Wizards on Blu-ray
Art and supplementary material courtesy of Fox Home Entertainment. All rights reserved.