Ralph Bakshi | USA | 1977 | 80 mins.
Bakshi raised public awareness as the author of provocative films which concern motives of dangerous city streets and imply themes about urban culture. He gained such a reputation thanks to the films like Fritz the Cat, Heavy Traffic and Coonskin.
Quite early, Bakshi entered the general awareness as the maker of provocative films dealing with the theme of dangerous city streets and other supremely urban topics. He earned this reputation through his films Fritz the Cat, Heavy Traffic, Coonskin and Hey Good Lookin´. The film Wizard´s was his first step in the field of the fantasy genre, later followed by the less successful persifl age of Barbar Conan's Fire and Ice. He wanted to express his opinion concerning the threat of the misuse of technology and, at the same time, create a warning memento of the Jewish holocaust, which he wanted to comment upon, not only because of his Jewish background.
The film was based on a traditional fairy-tale archetype, confrontation between a good and an evil wizard. The film was split into the development of the plot in full animation on one hand, and explanatory, commented passages with a voice-over frame and limited animation on the other. The narrative was set in the far future when nobody lives on an Earth badly damaged by nuclear war.
Instead, there are fairies, elves and dwarves on the good side, and mutants on the evil side, in combat for the future picture of the world. Whereas the good wizard, Avatar, uses magic in a playful, good-hearted way, his insidious brother Blackwolf misuses technology, constructing it according to the discoveries of the distant past, i.e. the present of Bakshi's origination of the film. However, the director does not brand technology as necessarily evil; he emphasizes the fact that evil only arises from the potential intentions and aims it serves. This message is also supported in the way Bakshi conceived the ending of the film, where the story takes a surprising twist and introduces the figure of a converted robot who does not want to live in war any more. For that matter, the greatest weapon of Blackwolf is represented by unearthed film reels showing Hitler's speeches from World War II. Due to these, the dark magician realizes that propaganda and artful manipulation are most powerful weapons. The use of real period footag of Hitler's demagogical cursing imparts the film with a disconcerting authenticity.
Despite the film's heavy and traumatizing theme, Bakshi could not help but lard it with ironic, light-footed, funny subversions and allusions. For instance, during a conversation between two characters, Avatar struggles with a liberated lizard in the background. The most legendary joke, however, is of one mutant lamenting the apparent death of another, after which he accidentally shoots his fellow mutant himself. The scene is accompanied by his screaming "They killed Fritz", an ironic grin of Bakshi towards Robert Crum, the author of an independent comic who in his work lets Fritz die so that he never becomes part of the mainstream.