Thursday, October 29, 2009

Happy Birthday Ralph Bakshi

Today is Ralph Bakshi's 71st birthday. Below is a publicity pamphlet that accompanied the release of Heavy Traffic. I still feel that Traffic is Bakshi's most satisfying film and one that pointed in a direction that too few have followed. Persepolis may be the only animated film I can think of that's similar.

Note that the film was rated X at the time of release. Current versions are rated R, though I have no memory of what's been cut. Regardless of the rating, what makes the film groundbreaking for me is the combination of cartoony designs and realistic emotions. Besides breaking animation's family friendly stereotype, Bakshi also showed how much more a cartoon was capable of.

Most of the film is on YouTube. One part is missing, and I suspect that it's the Maybelline sequence that Mark Kausler animated, as there is some explicit sexual content there. The film is also available on DVD for $10 U.S. It's not a great transfer, but the film is worth seeing in any condition.



(Click to enlarge.)

11 comments:

Rick Roberts said...

Heavy Traffic is one of the great films of cinema history, not just animation and this was not mold breaker because of it's adult nature. This film is so great because of the sincere personal story and the social commentary. Nothing dates about Heavy Traffic because Bakshi's theme wrings true even today, people eat each other to survive and there is nothing else to say the contrary.

Jay Amabile said...

I need to finally check this out, I've never seen it.

Weirdo said...

"Heavy Traffic" is one of my favorite films of all time. I love its cartoony designs, its atmosphere, everything. My favorite moment is the scene where Ida is walking amongst all of those pictures, falling into despair over how it seems she has wasted her life. It's a beautiful scene that shows Bakshi has a tender side. Wonderful post Mr. Mayerson. I liked the pamphlet. Happy birthday Mr. Bakshi.

Mark Mayerson said...

I agree with you about the sequence with Ida and the photos. It's one of the highlights of the film for me and different from almost anything else Bakshi has done.

Rick Roberts said...

There are so many great moments in Heavy Traffic and the ones most notable for me are that photo montage sequence, The Mama pile comic,the Mabelline comic, the brutal fight scenes, and the surreal sequence that occurs right after Micheal is...well I won't spoil it.

Weirdo said...

Another scene I like is the part with Crazy Moe. It has a certain something that I can't quite describe. Its underlying theme to me almost describes the theme of the film.

Also, I love anything with Snowflake, but that's just for pure entertainment value.

Rick Roberts said...

Ah yes, the philosphy of Crazy Moe. "We all niggas". XD

Weirdo said...

"Ah yes, the philosphy of Crazy Moe. "We all niggas". XD"

Actually, I was thinking more on the idea that nobody is really free if we're kept in a cage (symbolic or otherwise) by somebody else.

Floyd Norman said...

I've always regarded Ralph as "the crazy man of animation." I mean that as a compliment. He kept the medium vibrant and alive during a dull lackluster period.

We need more like him, especially today.

Rick Roberts said...

"Actually, I was thinking more on the idea that nobody is really free if we're kept in a cage (symbolic or otherwise) by somebody else."

No,not by someone else. It's a more overwhelming force then that, it's the circumstances of your life you can't control or your not willing not change.

Of course there are people who aren't satisfied and just think they are trapped in a cage however in the case of this film, two young people with pretty much nothing you can see they need satisfaction.

Weirdo said...

"No,not by someone else. It's a more overwhelming force then that, it's the circumstances of your life you can't control or your not willing not change."

THAT'S it. I think that's what I was trying to say. Thank you for that. It's those moments that make Bakshi's film more than "dirty Disney flicks", as some critics have said.