An illuminating history bearing on the everlasting struggle for world supremacy fought between the powers of technology and magic.
Wizards is an animated post-apocalyptic tale which pits good against evil, dressed up as fairies and mutants in this particular instance. Brought to us by Director Ralph Bakshi , the movie oozes Lord of the Rings from the opening narrative, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing, and perhaps hardly surprising as he was responsible for an animated version of LOTR the following year. After years of sickly sweet, yet mostly outstanding, Disney movies, Bakshi presents us with a somewhat gritty and rather risqué flick. The movie spouts violence throughout but usually accompanied by enough humour to take the edge off (and probably help keep the rating down to a PG). Its main talking point will always be the use of Nazi propaganda as the driving force behind evil. Bakshi has, apparently, stated that Wizards true meaning is about the creation of Israel and the Holocaust, about the Jews looking for a homeland and the rise of fascism. This sounds pretty heavy going for a cartoon but then this never was going to be the Saturday Morning Picture Show of choice for your average 10 year old.
Wizards only had a short cinema outing as it was taken off the circuit to make way for another film that was to also destined to become a bit of a classic, Star Wars. Just before its release Wizards received a name change from its original title of War Wizards to avoid any confusion with the upcoming Lucas epic. Bakshi agreed to change the name as Lucas had allowed Mark Hamill time off from filming Star Wars to do some voice work on Wizards. Had Wizards spent more time in theatres perhaps we would have ended up with the trilogy that Bakshi had originally planned. However, in September 2008 Animation Magazine reported that Bakshi was working with Main Street Pictures on a sequel, so you never know.
The first blast was set off by five terrorist, it took 2 million years for the radioactive clouds to allow some of the sun in
Following a devastating nuclear war that all but destroyed mankind, most humans had changed into hideous mutants and roam the radioactive wastelands unable to return to mankind, each birth a new disaster. Meanwhile in the good lands of Montagar, arising from their long sleep, are the true ancestors of man, fairies, elves and dwarves.
When two wizards are born to the same mother, Delia Queen of the Fairies, Avatar, the kind and good wizard, is pitted against his evil brother Blackwolf. Avatar had spent much of his boyhood entertaining his mother with magical visions and kindness whereas Blackwolf, the evil wizard, would never visit his mother, instead choosing to spend much of his time torturing small animals.
The baby wizards were polarised like magnets, one attracting with a magnetic draw, the other repelling and impossible to get near
When Delia dies Blackwolf is excited, he expects to take over and rule Montagar with his evil ways and dreams of mutant rule but Avatar has other ideas. The twins battle almost to the point of death, but empowered by the grief from his mother's passing Avatar defeats Blackwolf in the fight for supremacy. Blackwolf leaves Montagar but promises to return and with him bring mutant rule to the land.
Fast forward 3000 years....
Blackwolf had spent thousands of years building an army filled with frog like creatures and demon souls, they roam the lands pillaging everything in their path on their quest for total mutant rule. Along the way they excavate and collect all manner of ancient machinery and technology which they return to Blackwolf who is determined to build war machines that will enable him to finally defeat Avatar. Among the ancient artefacts Blackwolf finds a projector and Nazi film reels filled with propaganda and war footage, this is his 'dream machine' which he empowers with evil magic and uses to inspire and drive his armies in battle and terrify the enemies with images of ancient warfare and the might of pure evil that was the Nazi movement. As probably the film's most obvious talking point this could be deemed a gutsy moment of film making genius or just a bad taste decision that runs the risk of alienating viewers. Is Bakshi using Nazism in an almost comedic role or is it just clever use of the most recognised tyrant in history as the catalyst for the story of good against evil and in this case, even millions of years in the future, the image of Hitler and his Nazi war machine is still the ultimate picture of evil?
The day will come my brother when I will return and make this a planet where mutants rule
After the Elvin army was defeated by the mutants, spurred on by endless reels of the Nazi propaganda, Avatar sets off to find and destroy the projector. On his journey Avatar comes across an elf army encampment waiting to attack Blackwolf and put an end to the mutant's tyranny. The elf general tells Avatar that all the remaining elves of the world have united for this mighty battle to end all battles.
As the battle rages and the 'dream machine' helps the mutants get the upper hand we are taken to a meeting between Avatar and Blackwolf. Blackwolf tells Avatar that he does not want to destroy him and offers him the chance to surrender his land. Avatar isn't going to surrender, instead he tells Blackwolf that he hasn't practiced magic for many years but does have one last trick up his sleeve - a trick that their mother had taught him. And with those words Avatar changes the fortunes of battle ......
The war was won - Hitler was dead again
The most ironic of endings, which was completely unforeseen, brings to a close a movie that doesn't seem to know who it's aimed at. It's a PG rated movie and Director Bakshi tells us it's a family film that tells of real people the audience can connect with, yet we have demons, scantily clad fairies and Nazis thrown together against the backdrop of a nuclear holocaust. Some of the animation may thrill anime fans whereas other scenes would be more suited in a Disney classic. It's almost a headache of visuals which appear, at times, to be just thrown together.
After watching the movie twice I'd be tempted to say it's just Lord of the Rings in a new, or should I say old, suit. We get good versus evil, we have the fairies, elves and dwarves and we have the epic battle scenes. Some of the characters could easily be cut and pasted from Tolkien's masterpiece, so much so that I intend to make an extra effort to watch Bakshi's Lord of the Rings animated affair in the near future if only to compare it to Wizards.
I don't know if I would whole heartedly recommend Wizards to a new audience. It's an okay film but aside from the OTT Nazi inclusion, which does make for interesting viewing in my opinion, it's just another average movie. However, if you're a fan of Bakshi's work I'm sure this would be a must have for your collection anyway, and this is probably be the best way to watch it.