Sunday, November 19

Ralph Bakshi's controversial animation

Ralph Bakshi is an animation director who has also done live-action (This Aint' Bebop, Babe, he calls me) has done controversial and somewhat stale for my taste/somewhat amazing animated films such as The Lord of the Rings (1978), Wizards (1977), CBS' Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures (1987), Cool World (1992) and the infamous Fritz the Cat (1972). In his movies he used retroscoping live-action to save costs.

In fact, the Simpsons episode 'The Day the Violence Died' where an Itchy and Scratchy festival was held and Comic book guy showed a video Bart had never seen called "Itchy and Scratchy Meets Fritz the Cat" [I always thought the bird had a pilot cap, but it was her hair] was a parody on Bakshi's movie based on Fritz (the only animated movie evered granted an X rating) that went against the creator Robert Crumb's intention of the original comic book.

He ended up he killing off the character and never working on it again.

But the one I want to talk about is the rarely spoken about Coonskin, a film Al Sharpton fought against back in 1975. It was re-released on VHS under the title Street Fight, and on laserdisc under Bustin' Out. In Sweden it was under the title Rabbit: The Killer. It starred Barry White, Charles Gordone and Phillip Michael Thomas as inmates attempting to escape and a told a story about their cartoon counterparts.

It has some elements of Uncle Remus stories by Joel Chandler Harris, which was also adapted by Walt Disney in Song of the South (which I will cover next). So this one had a rabbit, fox and bear like the other one. The film was given limited distribution, advertised as a blaxploitation film. The NAACP had written a letter describing the film as a difficult satire, but supported it. Information from Wikipedia. The DVD is now bootlegged but Bakshi Productions has recently announced it will on official DVD. I found it interesting because of the mix of animation and live-action but they weren't incoropated together.

The movie remained in obscurity for many years because of poor distribution, eventually developing a cult following through film festivals and home video. Even the Wu-Tang Clan, Spike Lee and Quentin Tarantino expressed interest in producing a sequel during the Cannes Film Festival . In 2003, the Online Film Critics Society ranked the film as the 97th greatest animated film of all time.