Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Fire and Ice and Frazetta: Painting with Fire

Fire and Ice made by Ralph Bakshi in 1983 was a collaboration between Bakshi and fame fantasy artist Frank Frazetta.

Plot Summary
From their stronghold in Icepeak, the evil Queen Juliana and her son Nekron send forth a wave of glaciers, forcing humanity to retreat south. Nekron sends a delegation to King Jarel in Firekeep to request his surrender, but this is a really ruse for Nekron's sub-humans to kidnap Jarel's daughter, the Princess Teegra. But Teegra makes an escape and comes upon the farmboy Larn, the only survivor of a village razed by glaciers, who offers to escort her back to Firekeep. As Teegra is recaptured, Larn teams with the mysterious Darkwolf to save Teegra and then travel to Icepeak to stop Juliana.

I remember seeing this film way back when on VHS, I'd only known Bakshi's work from his 1978 film of Lord of the Rings and I knew Frank Frazetta's work from magazines such as Starlog and Fantastic Films which often had adverts for his books, and also from seeing his work on the covers of Conan novels. Although the film only cost $1.2 million it was not a success at the box office or with many critics at the time. I bought the DVD a while back as I was keen to see this film again. Looking back I still enjoyed this simple tale of good versus evil, some of the animation looks a little simplistic these days detail wise, the film heavily utilized the technique of rotoscoping, hand drawn pictures traced from live action footage, a technique that dates back to 1915 and was used in films such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Bakshi made heavy use of this technique in Wizards and Lord of the Rings. It's quite amusing seeing the footage of the actors on the DVD extras starring in what looks like the cheapest fantasy film of all time being filmed purely for the animators to trace around. I found this trailer on You Tube for anyone who hasn't heard of this movie.

In a bit of trivia, some of the background paintings were created by James Gurney who illustrated and wrote the Dinotopia books.

The DVD set of Fire and Ice also features a superb 2003 documentary called Frazetta:Painting with Fire, which features interviews with Frank Frazetta and his family and artists such as Simon Bisley, Joe Jusko, Mike Kaluta, Bernie Wrightson, the late Dave Stevens, Brom, William Stout, Kevin Eastman and director John Milius and others. It's a nice in depth look at Frazetta's life and career, and the health problems that he's suffered in later life, a series of strokes forced him to learn to draw and paint with his left hand.
Well worth picking up this 2 disc DVD even if it's just for this superb documentary.

Also I also thought writing Fire in red and Ice in Blue in this review was pure genius, I hope you appreciate my efforts :)


Michael G Clark said...

That all looks like a world of weird. I may get it.

Oh, The Prisoner starts a re-run on ITV4 tonight. He's not a number, apparently.

allen said...

I just showed thee documentary to my illustration class. Very cool info about the man.

And yes, the color of thee words IS pure genius!

Moonwatcher said...

Not seen this in an awfully long time. I remember it being good fun though.