Ralph Bakshi | USA | 1972 | 78 mins.
Fritz the cat fully enjoys the liberal atmosphere of New York during the sixties. He experiences many adventures and bizzare situations. But the revolutionary game brings quite unexpected results.
For a viewer who is unfamiliar with the film, Fritz the Cat may appear rather innocent. However, Bakshi's film seems tricky, because its title evokes such films and series with some cheery character in the leading role that are aimed at children (e.g. Felix the Cat) – especially through the style of animation and the graphic rendering of the characters. The animation is infantile, simple and cute (it may even remind the Czech audience of television bedtime stories) and most of the characters in the film are depicted as adorable cartoon animals. The abrupt contrast towards the visuality of the film is their behaviour, their dialogues and the scenes full of sex, drugs, obscenity and violence. Fritz the Cat is an intellectual film that wraps purely mature themes and features in the form of a fairy tale. Not only is the film's nature very subversive, but it also allows the author to insert such scenes that would be rated as inappropriate pornography if used within a feature film (this is very similar to the film Live Freaky Die Freaky which is also to be screened within PAF 2008). Though animation makes even the most daring scenes look harmless, Fritz the Cat became the very first animated film to be rated "X" in the USA.
Fritz the Cat is a bitter satire about the American sixties. It is witty, playful, aggressive and dark all at the same time. At first it shows the shiny sixties as the era of freedom and liberty as well as sexual exuberance and drug intoxication, but it gradually descends into much darker moods and visions. Fritz decides to leave the university and plunges into a bohemian life, then he evaluates his experience as a writer. He wanders through several worlds and finds himself on several different social levels (afro-american ghetto, Hells Angels). Still, Fritz doesn't back down from the need for social revolution. He realizes his actions were reckless when it's already too late to redeem the situation. Fritz the Cat is a film about youth, indulgence and the limits one needs to respect, about maturity and discovering and understanding oneself. It is one of the projects which definitely point to the fact that animation doesn't always imply some cheerful entertainment for children, but represents also the adequate platform for adult reflection and the depiction of serious themes in an entertaining and controversial way.
Ralph Bakshi After the success of Fritz the Cat (1972), Bakshi shot Heavy Traffic (1973) and Coonskin (1975) that are regarded as controversial, but retained its cult status. The ambitious fantasy Wizards (1977), Fire and Ice (1983) and especially the first chapter of the Lord of the Rings (1978) didn't succeed because of both critics and producers.