When I was a child, my father had me watch two of Ralph Bakshi‘s more famous works: Wizards and the Lord of the Rings.
I don’t think that we watched them back to back, but in my memory we had. For many years I believed that they were actually one big feature film.
It isn’t hard to understand why. Both are in the classic Bakshi style. Both had heavy VHS grainy-ness and muddy colors. Both used heavy roto-scoping. Both featured elves, dwarves, magical monsters and, of course, both featured a good wizard and a bad one.
My confusion was stemmed by the intro. In it, you see some fairy/elf lady has two children. A good one and a bad one.
The good one was using magic for nice, fun and cool stuff. Everyone liked him and I totally thought that this was Gandalf! It makes sense: Hobbits seem to like him and he almost looked like a Hobbit as a kid. In my young mind, I thought that this was the reason why the Grey Wizard hung out in the Shire so often: Hobbits reminded him of his childhood.
On the flip-side, the other twin was a creepy loner who liked to hurt animals and dressed all in black. Keep in mind that I saw this before my adolescent counter-culture angst phase. I recognized this guy not as a badass lone-wolf, but as a bad guy who spoiled nice fun things. The kind of kid who’d tell you Santa wasn’t real or deliberately break your favorite toys. Or just steal them.
I figured that this one became Saruman. His eyes are red and Saruman’s robes (in this cartoon, anyway) are red too.
So you can guess that things go badly once their mother dies. Suddenly the Bad wizard is free to mess around and cause trouble. The good brother calls him on this and they fight.
So anyway, the bad guy loses and runs off. I assumed that he made his own home where he slowly made his army of orcs and creepy rotoscoped soldiers.
Here is what the evil wizard’s home looks like in Wizards, and what Saruman’s home looks like in Lord of the Rings:
So anyway, years pass and I don’t really remember much else of Wizards except for bits and pieces. I do remember these two important characters who I assumed were the grown-up versions of the twins:
In Lord of the Rings, the audience never sees Sauron (unlike Peter Jackson’s films, in which you see physical Sauron and the glowing Eye). So I assumed that Saruman was THE villain.
Sadly, Bakshi’s film never really concluded, but Wizards did. Both films end in a big war and the good wizard defeats the bad. As a kid that’s how I though it ended: with Gandalf pulling out a Luger pistol and shooting Saruman (calling him a son of a bitch along the way).
If you really think about it, this combined version of the film sounds better that either of Bakshi’s works on their own, eh? I think so!
It’s amazing how a kid’s mind works. Some day, I’d love to actually take this story and write it up as a somewhat Cliché but classic tale. What do you think?
Oops, one more thing:
Funny enough, with all of my very specific, if cloudy, memories, I don’t recall having noticed Elinore the ridiculously over-sexy fairy babe. I think that I was just a little to young to care or remember. This was before I was able to notice Jessica Rabbit or other pretty cartoon girls.
More likely, my Dad probably just spared me the sight by fast-forwarded during her scenes!