(Due to moving into a new house soon, I have very little time for new reviews recently. So I’ll be re-uploading some old collaborations I did on the old site.)
Back in the 1970â€™s, there was a new idea for films going around that Cartoons can be not just for kids, but for adults too. At the front of these was a man named Ralph Bakshi. He was the man who helped this idea grow with the majority of his movies. (I mean where else are you going to find an X rated cartoon?) So out of his library of Controversial yet somehow popular films, I decided to take a look at his most critically acclaimed film with the help of my friend Chilton: Heavy Traffic.
Chilton: Thanks for having me, Creature. I’ve heard of Ralph Bakshi and some of his films, but Heavy Traffic is the first one I’ve actually seen. And something I’ve noticed here and in reviews of his other films is, he seemed to love satire
Creature: Indeed, Ralph does love Satire, especially throughout most of his early works.
Chilton: The plot here is a satire of society in the 1970s through the perspective of a young artist who uses his relationships as inspiration for his animation (ironic, considering he himself is a cartoon). And the world he lives in is insane.
His parents loathe each other to the point of attempted murder, blacks are treated like crap (though that may be due to the era in which the film takes place), and everyone else is either crazy, sex-crazed, or violent. Three characters even maim themselves after another character pushes a woman off the roof of a building. Simply put, the satire is so blunt that it hurts. The problem–or at least, my problem–is that whatever message Bakshi was trying to say is overshadowed by unlikable characters. Maybe that’s the point, but I’m not sure how to take it.
Creature: I saw it as a Satire of mostly the people during the 1970’s in A New York-esque environment. I’m not sure what the message would be in the film, but it most likely would have some to do with Urban Lifestyle.
Creature: Ralph Bakshi is partially known for the use of Rotoscoping for the majority of his films. Sometimes It can be obviously be seen (Especially with his film Fire & Ice.) It doesn’t look noticeable, except for maybe Michael, the main character, since he looks more like a regular human that everybody else in the film.
Chilton: There’s not much to say about Rotoscope that’s already been said. It’s just a fad in animation, much like Flash is nowadays. For the animation itself, it’s actually one of the few parts of the film that works for me. I like how the main character is the only “normal-looking” person in a world where people look deformed and cartoonish. In a way, it a reflection of how he might be sane compared to everyone around him. In fact, that’s probably how he sees the world–insane and grotesque. But, like I said, the animation is nice, especially for its time.
Creature: I agree, the animation is one of the better parts of the movie. Plus, the idea of how everyone being a cartoon is his own vision of the world around him, to me, seems what Bakshi was probably going for in the film.
Creature: The Film certainly has some very interesting characters. Aside from our main character Michael, there’s Snowball (A Transvestite), Carol (a Stripper), Michaelâ€™s Father (an Italian with Mob Connections), Michaelâ€™s Mother (a Jewish Woman) and “God”. Plus the film includes many other strange people throughout it.
Chilton: As I said before, I hated just about every character in the film. Everyone is insane and despicable, to the point that I have a hard time feeling sympathy for even the least hated characters. Simply put, I just don’t care. Enough said.
Creature: I agree that the characters are very very unlikable. I didn’t really find anybody to really root for. I guess the only relatable person could be Michael since he seems the most Normal. It covers some “Stereotypes” and made most of the characters to be, as you mentioned, Crazy, Sex-Crazed, & Violent.
Creature: Throughout the film, there are many scenes where it shows a Pinball machine and how it moves around as the film progresses. (The Opening of the film, starts and ends with Michael playing Pinball.) Some people interpret it as the plot moving forward.
Chilton: Like my last two paragraphs, there’s really not much to say. In my opinion, the pinball machine represents the spontaneity of life. Much like the movement of the ball depends on how far the lever is pulled, actions and words trigger some kind of response. In other words, what we say and do have consequences. We just can’t predict what those responses and consequences might be. If we could, we’d probably do things differently. But since it’s not the case, sometimes we have to test the waters. Also, sex metaphor.
Creature: I also saw it as more of the consequences of the actions of the characters. I could say at some parts it represents the plot moving forward as some Critics say. Also, I noticed many Sex Metaphors in this film.
Chilton: This film, and by definition, any Bakshi film, seems to be an acquired taste. You either love his work or you hate it. That being said, I had a hard time watching Heavy Traffic. It has some nice animation, satire, and voice acting. But the characters were so unlikable and the writing so harsh that I couldn’t really get into it. In fact, I almost felt dirty watching it. I don’t think it’s an awful movie, just one that’s not for me.
Creature: I agree that Bakshi is an acquired taste and some of his films (mainly his early stuff) can be hard to watch. Personally, I didn’t find it to be a hard film to sit through. I do agree with you that the animation & voice acting are nice, and that the characters are very unlikable. I found to be a rather interesting, if not Over the Top at times, film that can be viewed as a bizarre take on one’s view of the environment and people around him. I can’t really recommend, but I don’t think it should be a film to avoid. All I can say is Watch it if youâ€™re Curious about it.