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Fritz the Cat

Year: 1972
Director: Ralph Bakshi
Writer: Robert Crumb
Like most people, I probably saw this because as a kid we all sniggered to each other that it was an animated porno.

But Ralph (Lord of the Rings) Bakshi's film was really an animated Easy Rider, chronicling the concerns, hopes, dreams and fears of 60s kids using a unique conduit - animated animals.

It follows the life of hedonist student Fritz who talks big about revolution but mostly wants to get high and get laid. Bakshi captured the movement in both style and content so well it's hard to believe he was satirising the whole thing, but the fact that Fritz's shallow self interest goes again the free love ethos of the times he lives in seems to be saying something.

There are some really interesting visual touches. The bumbling policemen being depicted as pigs is obvious, but portraying Harlem blacks as jet-black crows dressed somewhere between Disney cartoon characters and the stereotype of jazz club-dwelling dandies really works.

Both the story and the visuals are full of trippy tangents and it's obvious Bakshi and any other writers involved weren't simply espousing the culture, they lived it while they were putting the film together.

It's interesting on several levels. You can look at it as a historical document of the time, a time capsule of the style of animation or a skewing of cultural memes (using Disney-like cartoon animals to portray the period when The Kids transformed the world).

Like Timothy Leary meets Walt Disney, it was also the nail in the coffin of the collaboration and friendship between Bakshi and Robert Crumb, who created the character but didn't think the movie did Fritz justice.

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