Heavy Traffic (1973)

Article 3384 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 10-7-2010
Posting Date: 11-19-2010
Directed by Ralph Bakshi
Featuring Joseph Kaufmann, Beverly Hope Atkinson and the voice of Frank DeKova
Country: USA
What it is: Animated underground comix

A cartoonist deals with the trials and tribulations of his life by incorporating the people and incidents in his life into comics.

The two Ralph Bakshi films that I’ve already covered (WIZARDS and THE LORD OF THE RINGS) are ones where the fantastic content is fairly up front. This one is apparently based on underground comix (and I’ll confess right up front that I’m not really familiar with the form), and may be inspired by events in Bakshi’s own life; I have no proof of that last statement, but it certainly has that air about it, and I gather it may be Bakshi’s own favorite movie of his. It’s definitely not for overly sensitive viewers, as it abounds in cartoon nudity, racial stereotypes, religious themes, foul language, extreme violence… you name it, and there’s probably a moment in this movie that features it. Though the basic story is realistic, there’s fantasy all around the edges, especially in some dream sequences and a science fiction cartoon that the main character shows to a dying man. I found it interesting enough; for what it’s worth, I think Bakshi’s animation style lends itself better to this type of project than the other ones I’ve seen of his. I was fascinated by one piece of trivia I read for this one on IMDB; apparently, Bakshi got into a fight with one of his producers, who either fired or planned to fire him and wanted to hire Chuck Jones to complete the project, who declined. Somehow, the idea of Chuck Jones completing a Ralph Bakshi project is truly mind-blowing.


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