Ralph Bakshi continues a downward spiral of technical quality of animation detail while simultaneously making preparatory practice motions toward his later incomplete rendering of “Lord of the Rings” in the dismal 1977 “Wizards”, a film which by all available evidence is hampered by a lack of completion funds, or completion interest on the part of Bakshi, or both. The film is a blatant amalgam of scattershot varieties of art styles and past film references, without the reverential tug of homage that often is the refuge of artistic plagiarism; though in the case of “Wizards” the usefulness in the borrowings is as equally ill-served by the most mundane of scenarios- a post-apocalyptic (why?) tale of sibling wizards in which the declaration of a war between technology and magic (though in its lurid context on Nazi propaganda what it’s genuinely about is the power of the movies to alter popular consciousness: the technological “marvel” able to excite the vanquishing armies is merely a film projector, significantly referenced as the “dream machine”) is declared in a rather crudely executed title card, though in the Eisenstein-inspired (the evil wizard Blackwolf even resembles Ivan the Terrible) wholesale slaughter of massive rotoscoped armies becomes irrelevant with a last minute switch which betrays the formal delineation between magic and weaponry (and thus undercuts the entire announced intention of the film), so the real difference between the brothers seems to be merely cosmetic (shades of “The Dunwich Horror”!).
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