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Ralph Bakshi

September 30, 1996

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Bakshi is one of the few animators in the U.S. who has brought a tough, gritty edge to American Animation. Believe me, he isn't Disney! Mostly adult entertainment, his films tackle subjects that aren't considered appropriate for the Saturday Matinee kiddie crowd. Born in Haifa, Palestine on October 26, 1938, Bakshi was introduced to a mass audience, with the notorious Fritz the Cat (1972), the first animated film to recieve the dreaded X-rating. Based on the famous underground comic anti-hero, Bakshi brought on his views of the sexual revolution and the decade known as the "turbulent" 1960's. His next two film works were just as controversial as Fritz was, and how! His semi-autobiographical Heavy Traffic (1973), was the first of Bakshi's work to combine live action film with animation. Coonskin (1975) offered his views on the treatment of blacks in America.

His films of the late 70's and early 80's were more ambitious. Wizards (1977) and The Lord of the Rings (1978), based on J.R.R. Tolkein's classic novels, were dismally received. They were noticed for the impressive process of "rotoscoping", a cinema device used to trace animation over live-action, hence adding a new realism to animation; something that had never been used before and rarely since. His most ambitious work, American Pop (1981), was met with mixed reviews. His take on popular American culture throughout the decades was pessimistic and negative, and would probably explain the lack of interest among American audiences. He recently attempted to make a comeback with Cool World (1992), but the bloated mess was about as "hip" as a bunch of toads playing leap frog. Though I'll admit he hasn't gained a huge amount of respect for his work, he's the man that broke new gr ound in the development of animation in America, and has brought on work that, if not completely successful, is always consistently interesting. His work is something that is uniquely original. I'm glad that he had the guts to take on movie censors and dispell the myth that cartoons HAVE to be nice, cheerful pieces of nauseating un-original fluff. If you wish to find out about further "adult" animation (which were probably influenced by Bakshi), check out my reviews of Heavy Metal and Akira.

My rating on a scale of 1 to 10: 7

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