Movie of the Week: Fire and Ice

This 1983 Ralph Bakshi / Frank Frazetta collaboration is a mixed bag, with some inspired sequences and long stretches of drudgery. Even at 81 minutes it wears out its welcome after awhile, with the plot consisting of little more than the two principal characters getting captured and escaping repeatedly.

Also, nearly every frame of the movie clearly uses rotoscoping, a cheat which has been employed in animated feature films since the beginning (even Snow White was a rotoscoped actress), but is especially ostentatious in these Ralph Bakshi movies. At no point to you forget that you're watching actors on a soundstage, making it reminiscent of the Adventures of Huck Finn segments on The Banana Splits. So most of the time there's little interest in the animation. But sometimes the more colorful characters, like the subhumans, are rendered with some artistic flair. And the background paintings are really nice.

I just saw this for the first time in 28 years and, despite its flaws, was still impressed. But maybe it's just nostalgia: Fire and Ice was the first movie I liked enough to dub a video copy (which required the borrowing of a second VCR from a neighbor). I saw it many, many times on VHS in those following months, coinciding with my interest in Dungeons and Dragons, Tolkien, Heavy Metal magazine and Black Sabbath records. So it fit into a very mythic, imaginative time for me, before I matured into a disaffected teenager.

But admittedly this movie is dumber than a brick. I can't imagine anyone over 15 being into it, unless you're one of the people who never quite got past the age of 15 in your head. Then it's totally great. Like a fuckin' Molly Hatchet album cover come to life!

The whole movie is below, embedded from youtube, but if you have netflix streaming you should watch it there in HD.

Bonus: a behind-the-scenes documentary from when the film was in production.
Look, you get to see a real ink-and-paint department, staffed by American citizens. Those went extinct by the end of the 80's. And I remember wearing that white cotton glove with the fingers cut off when I was an animation student; it was so you could hold your brushes with your fingers, but still rest your palm on the acetate cel without getting it dirty.

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