Reviews: Wizards

It's a classic, but has not aged well

I really tried to enjoy the movie. I had heard wonderful things about Ralph Bakshi's work. I had been told that Wizards was a movie with a message and a fascinating plot. What I got was very dated animation dotted with badly rotoscoped footage from live movies, lazy dubbing, and a plot which was only innovative when Avatar chose to just shoot Blackwolf rather than have a Wizard's duel. Eh, I can cross the movie off as having finally watched it, but it just wasn't all that good.

Between the Battlelines

Wizards is not a film for everyone.

It is not a film for casual fans of animation. It is not a film for anyone equating hype and reputation with AAA production quality. This is a hard, difficult film to endure for generations raised on the styling of Studio Ghibli or the slick CGI of Pixar. Wizards is a movie that will incense and put off those anticipating comprehensive narrative and familiar, trope-heavy characterizations.

This is also not a bad thing.

Wizards, like most of Bakshi's work, stems from the animator's personal life and experiences, as well as his philosophies concerning the creative medium. It is intended to be raw and informal; to have the feel of a conceptual student effort. It is meant to feature tangential relations between the actors and set pieces; for subtext and theme to serve as the unifying element. It is meant to be contradictory; glossing over minutiŠ in favor of the broader concept.

Ultimately, the film's strength is that which has enabled Bakshi to remain a legendary figure in the world of animation - the capacity to demonstrate that the superficial quality of a cartoon production (the eye-pleasing aesthetic of tamer fare presented by Disney and his imitators) is not the only intrinsic worth of such a feature. This is a movie about wizards, yes, and faeries, and irradiated future mutants, and warring states, and the hero's journey, and combating a great evil with a great good, but only on the surface.

At the core of the film is the mastery of propaganda; the charisma held by those few magicians in human history that've held sway over millions with speech and song; poster and pontification. It is about the consequence of directing people to whichever purpose the propagandist serves and treasures most, and the tragedies suffered by the self, the spirit, and the broader social body when one dearly beloved view invariably comes into conflict with the other, demonstrated, monstrous foe.

Thus do wizards retain their thralls.