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The Bakshi Interview: Uncloaking a Legacy

April 20, 2015 at 3:47 pm by Cliff Quickbeam Broadway  - 

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6

The studio’s disservice

His last concern was on his mistreatment by United Artists and how his “LOTR” was not properly marketed to the public: “I’m giving you some of the things that I ran into with Peter and some of my anger … and a lot of other things that are bothering me with the “Rings” situation; and the fact that I made a film that was going to be in three parts and they never advertised it that way. And then I got a lot of hell for ‘not finishing the film.’ Well how can you finish Tolkien in one movie?”

With a quick joke and a generous handshake my interview with Bakshi came to a close. After about 23 minutes I had my answers, and we hastily went out the back door to an alleyway. Hundreds of people waiting in the Aero Theatre lobby were clamoring to enter the auditorium and take their seats for the screening. There were too many. Eddie Bakshi said, “Dad, we have to go, it’s becoming a fire hazard, they’re gonna trample each other trying to get in here.”

Cliff “Quickbeam” Broadway interviews Ralph Bakshi.
This should tell you something about the animator’s following.

Outside he shook my hand again with more profuse apologies. I told him his candor was needful and appreciated. The clouds had passed and he was beaming again.

His upset at how things went down in 1978 understandable when you realize how the studio screwed him over, to be blunt. All prints of the film were supposed to end with a simple title card: END OF PART ONE but U.A. buried the notion that the animator would revisit the “Rings” again, causing much confusion among the press when the film was initially released. Bakshi took a lot of hard knocks for that. Audiences mostly enjoyed what they saw (box office returns were great) but were still nonplussed over the ending. Whether you liked it or avoided it, this plucky animator, with his loyal crew of artists and a singular vision, brought the first ever vision of Middle-earth to the silver screen.

Deserving of recognition

It is not solipsism or even sour grapes for Bakshi to want some recognition for his work, especially at his age. He wants to be regarded with clarity for what he has accomplished. He should get a heaping spoonful of extra credit for his ambition alone, whatever debate may remain on his efficacy at adapting Tolkien. Working on that film, as Beagle adroitly put it, “…was the only game in town.”

Ralph Bakshi’s American Cinematheque chat and Q&A session.
We wouldn’t have today’s cravings for adult animation, no “Archer,” “Bojack Horseman” nor certainly even “The Simpsons,” if it weren’t for Bakshi. Before his efforts the American attitude towards cartoons was no more than a convenient “babysitter on T.V.” you could plop the kids in front of so they’d sit still for an hour. Perhaps we will see Seth MacFarlane, Matt Groening, Mike Judge, Matt Parker and Trey Stone, (and numerous others) defend Bakshi and admit how truly indebted they are to him.

What legacy can outshine a history cloaked in shadow? Saul Zaentz walked away with a multibillion-dollar licensing treasure trove (from which his Estate still reaps the benefits). Peter Jackson walked away from “The Lord of the Rings” with his legacy intact: he redefined the industry with serialized tentpole epics, earned many Oscars, scored billions at the box office and a recent star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Ralph Bakshi walks away without even a bottle of wine or a pat on the back. Online trolls have torn at him; leaving the internet with a rather poor understanding of what he actually created.

His vision for “Rings” still sparks arguments among fans. It is equally seen as an enticing and robust entertainment. Either way, its lingering influence is fascinating and the man behind it deserves more from Ringers, animators, and film historians alike.

I hear New Zealand has some of the best wines in the world.

Clifford “Quickbeam” Broadway
Follow on  Twitter: @Quickbeam2000

Posted in Film Screenings, Headlines, John Howe, Lord of the Rings, LotR Movies, LotR Production, MGM, Miscellaneous, Out on a Limb, Peter Jackson, Ralph Bakshi, Tolkien, TORn TUESDAYS Live! on April 20, 2015 by

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