Best known for his memorable animated adaptation of THE LORD OF THE RINGS back in 1978 (which featured Anthony Daniels in the key voice role of Elfan archer Legolas), Ralph Bakshi's also appreciated fantasy WIZARDS, released in cinemas a year earlier, and starring a certain Mark Hamill, will be arriving on UK DVD from June 13th, 2016, from those cult film lovers at FABULOUS FILMS.
Here's the enjoyable press blurb:
Praised by Quentin Tarantino and George Lucas and sampled by Cypress Hill and Vanilla Ice, Wizards is an ambitious and inventive film from legendary animator Ralph Bakshi. Starring Mark Hamill (do I really need to write Star Wars in these brackets?) in a dazzling fantasy adventure, stunningly designed and thrilling dramatized - this unforgettable cult classic is presented in a breathtaking new high-definition transfer.
"[The] overall effect of the animation is akin to that of the great anime creators – one has to keep reminding oneself that Wizards predates Miyazaki's The Castle of Cagliostro (1979)”
John Grant, Masters of Animation
It’s true. I was picking my 5 year old son up from school yesterday and we were discussing 1970s anime. I had forgotten that Castle of Cagliostro came out after Wizards. Fortunately, I reminded myself, and I don’t think Blackwolf noticed my error.
Synopsis: 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.
The film is said to be an allegorical comment on the moral ambiguity of technology and the potentially destructive powers of propaganda. Bakshi also states that Wizards "was about the creation of the state of Israel and the Holocaust, about the Jews looking for a homeland, and about the fact that fascism was on the rise again."
Prior to Star Wars, George Lucas had recommended Mark Hamill to Ralph Bakshi for a minor role of Sean, king of the mountain fairies. Lucas was a big fan of Bakshi and was excited about the film. Bakshi said Hamill “needed a job, and he came to me, and I thought he was great, and Lucas thought he should do it, and he got not only Wizards, he got Star Wars."
The original title for the film was War Wizards but as it neared completion, Lucas requested that Bakshi change the title of his film to Wizards in order to avoid conflict with Star Wars. Bakshi agreed as Lucas had allowed Mark Hamill to take time off from Star Wars to record for the film.
Quentin Tarantino describes Avatar as "a cross between Tolkien's Hobbit, Mel Brooks' 2000 Year Old Man, and Marvel Comics' Howard the Duck" and Blackwolf as physically similar to Sergei Eisenstein's Ivan the Terrible.
Audio clips from the film have been sampled by among others Cypress Hill on the albums IV and Skull & Bones and Vanilla Ice on Platinum Underground.
Last year Bakshi said he had a script finished for Wizards 2 and hopes to make it his next film.
Cast: Bob Holt, Jesse Welles. Richard Romanus (Mean Streets, The Sopranos), David Proval (Mean Streets, The Sopranos), Steve Gravers, James Connell, Mark Hamill (Star Wars), Susan Tyrell, Ralph Bakshi, Angelo Grisanti.
Extras: • 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