Groovy Stuff Alert! WIZARDS: The fantastical journey of Magic VS. Technology!
Throughout my virtually ritualistic movie viewing and researching, it’s always groovy to find stuff that totally missed my radar – especially something of a cult classic, resounding nature. An instance such as this just occurred a couple weekends ago after a great session of beer drinking and making merry the night before, which made for an excellent morning of cartoon watching, maximum chillin’ and eggs and taters. But perhaps I should start from the beginning…
One of my best buds and I were talking about something or another a few months back (undoubtedly something gloriously nerdy), and he said “Hey, dude… you ever seen this movie Wizards?” And I promptly replied, “Nah, I don’t think so… what’s it all about?” He described it as an animated film that was set to totally blow my mind, with its juxtaposition of animation and avant-garde live-action styles, a visually stunning epic of a movie that absolutely must be seen, especially by an ardent cinephile such as me.
Well, I held that conversation in mind and kept an eye peeled for this flick called Wizards. Lo and behold, while doing my final skim through that oh, so glorious store we covered just a little while back (click here for the video!), I found this tape in the “Children’s” section (which even with a “PG” sticker, categorized this film grossly out of place). With all of the interest and recommendation swirling around this title, what else could I do but pick it up? As I suspected (because indeed I trust my bud’s taste without question), it turned out to be one the more fulfilling purchases I’ve made in recent memory. And not just because the flick is totally amazing and unforgettable, but because it was rad to hang out with my boys after a night of imbibing the nectar of the gods, and coming through full circle on a conversation we had just a few months prior. But, on to the movie itself, which is the real reason you clicked this link…
Wizards was created by Ralph Bakshi (Fritz the Cat, Heavy Traffic) and released in 1977 by 20th Century Fox – the first animated film to be released by the titanic company. The story takes place in a post-apocalyptic world, two million years after a nuclear disaster. Few humans remain, and the majority of beings on the planet are mutations who dwell in the fruitless wastelands. But in the utopic Montagar, where the true ancestors of man – elves, fairies and dwarves – thrive and live happily, there is a celebration of peace. Their Queen then gives birth to two wizards: Avatar, the good wizard, who entertains his Mother with fanciful tricks and illusions, and Blackwolf, a miserable mutant wizard who treats his mother with indifference. Blackwolf vows to make the land a place where mutants will rule, and rejects the world around him.
As the plot marches on, the two forces battle and the balance of their world teeters back and forth as Blackwolf summons the mass of the evil beings for his horde, studies war throughout the history of the world and resurrects “technology” to help him win the battles against the general good. His main weapon is a projector that runs Nazi propaganda footage on the battlefield to frighten and stupefy the elven warriors. Blackwolf’s tactics are working, and magic (and peace) seem to be in danger of being extinguished. Can Avatar pull together his select clan of cohorts (one of which, Weehawk, is voiced by Mark Hamil!) and help magic overcome technology and save their world from a fascist regime of mutants?
As you can tell by the curtailed synopsis for this movie, this ain’t no kiddie stuff. There are allegories aplenty running through this film. The very idea of pitting magic against technology could take your mind to a variety of places if one were to try to digest it in a metaphorical sense. The use of the Nazi symbolism in the film is stark and shocking and conveys the sense of evil and the threat of propaganda tremendously well. The usage of Nazi imagery, etc. is especially pertinent as Bakshi is of Israeli- American descent, which makes this film all the more potent and personal. But beyond the heady angles set forth in this epic piece of cinema, it’s really the visuals that are the most arresting and indelible. The contrast of iconic late 70s fantasy cartooning mixed with the gritty, distorted live-action footage creates an atmosphere that is frighteningly powerful. Although there is DVD release for this film, I’m stoked to say that the first time I viewed this wonderful picture, it was on VHS. I recommend you do the same. Then again, if you’re on this site, I’m sure you wouldn’t have it any other way. Fun fact: Susan Tyrell is the uncredited narrator in this film! Dig it!