Today: June 11, 2024

Wizards

In 1977, two ground-breaking animated features went head-to-head in US movie theatres. One was Fantasia. The other was Wizards. And, despite the financial power of the Disney-financed feature, it was Wizards that looked to be the surprise hit of the year. Then, along came Star Wars and, as cinemas rushed to find more screens on which to show George Lucas’ epic space opera, Wizards vanished– seemingly lost in the mist of time.

But like all great films, Wizards wasn’t completely forgotten. Fans campaigned to keep its memory alive—to get a DVD release. And, now 43 years later, Ralph Bakshi’s (Fritz The Cat, Lord Of The Rings) famous animation finally gets the high-definition transfer it deserves.

Set on a post-apocalyptic Earth where the technology has been outlawed after a nuclear disaster, the film follows the story of Avatar, the kindly, eccentric sorcerer-ruler of Montagar—a rainbow paradise inhabited by elves and fairies. Avatar’s evil brother, Blackwolf, dominates Scortch, a bleak land of goblins and wraiths. When the power-hungry Blackwolf attacks Montagar, Avatar, accompanied only by a spirited young woman and a courageous elf, must enter the darkness of Scortch to save his world. 

Praised by Quentin Tarantino and sampled by Cypress Hill and Vanilla Ice, Wizards is a dazzling fantasy adventure that—despite its tiny budget—is startlingly inventive and visually daring. The soundtrack deserves a special mention. Composer Andrew Belling really has produced something marvellous here.

Blending cartoon imagery with shocking real-world footage, the film spotlights the potentially destructive powers of propaganda and the rise of fascism.

Bakshi, arguably, pioneered the idea of animated features with mature, socially-aware themes. The PG certificate is, then, is something of a surprise, but thoughtful tweens and adults will find plenty here to inspire debate and challenge their expectations. Needless to say, it’s got a great storyline and tons of heart too.

Bakshi’s anti-fascist, anti-materialist fable offers a feast for the eyes and the brain.

Fabulous Films’ new release includes:
A brand new high-definition transfer.
Feature length audio commentary by director Ralph Bakshi.
Isolated music and effects audio track.
Ralph Bakshi: the wizard of animation featurette.
Extensive stills gallery including conceptual drawings.
Original Theatrical Trailers. 

Paula Hammond - Features Editor

Paula Hammond is a full-time, freelance journalist. She regularly writes for more magazines than is healthy and has over 25 books to her credit. When not frantically scribbling, she can be found indulging her passions for film, theatre, cult TV, sci-fi and real ale. If you should spot her in the pub, after five rounds rapid, she’ll be the one in the corner mumbling Ghostbusters quotes and waiting for the transporter to lock on to her signal… Email: writerpaula@icloud.com

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