(a broadside)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Formative Canon

My parents, bless 'em, were a lax sort in some ways. They didn't police my interests, religious views, or television/film viewing. They trusted me to see after myself in such things. Also, when I was a young fella, they were under the impression that, if something was animated, it was meant for kids. An idea which we of the Internet know is not remotely true.

Therefore, I was permitted to see and delve into a variety of strange things in my formative years that helped mold me into the goofily sardonic headcase that I am today.

Ralph Bakshi's Wizards is a far flung future Earth, millions of years after a nuclear holocaust. What remains of mankind are twisted abominations wracked with radiation. With mankind gone, the magical folk that ditched the scene after Technology won the world started waking up and engaging in lots of magical hippy activity. Two wizardly twin brothers are born, one a kind, handsome fellow, the other a hateful cadaver-lookin' sucker. Oddly enough, they end up wanting to kill each other. Happy bro turns to peace, love, and Magic, while Scary Spice turns to demons, Nazis, and Technology. That's right. Undead Nazis. I was watching undead Nazis kill elves and fairies and stuff at the age of three.

Hell yeah.

Sure, the underlying message is kinda head slapping, but the world is bizarre and captivating. It was an early example of walking dead folks, truly vile villains, and a rare fantasy world without humans mucking about.

The film version of The Last Unicorn was on a pretty constant rotation for me when I was a kid. I found the music catchy (because I dig 70s band America, apparently), and the animation was beautiful for the time. The company Lord Grade produced the film - they're mostly known for a bunch of holiday specials back in the day. They did their work in English, but they hired out Japanese animators. So this is some sort of quasi anime. Anyway, the all-star cast portray a fairy tale of the last remaining unicorn trying to find her sisters. She meets an incompetent wizard, Misses Lovette the witch, a sad ex-virgin, a handsome prince, and Christopher Lee being Christopher Lee. This one also features a sentient skeleton guarding a secret, demanding a bottle of wine before he'll give up his knowledge.

"But you're dead! You can't taste wine, can't smell it!"

"But I can remember . . . "

Ah, dead people.

It's a wistful, bittersweet film, and the novel is even more so. It is beautiful and sad - a world of crumbling magic and legends where "there are no happy endings, because nothing ever ends."

Ghostbusters. Film and cartoon. Dead people everywhere. The cartoon featured an Apocalypse episode and a Cthulhu episode (my first encounter with the big guy and one of my favorite episodes as a kid).

Add the Rankin and Bass animated version of the Hobbit and I think that about covers my formatives.

One of the greatest fantasy tales ever told, a bittersweet story about unicorns, a risque post apocalyptic fantasy, ghosts and snarky protagonists. Shows and films that I would watch over and over and over again.

No comments:

Post a Comment