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I came across the recently released DVD of this film in, of all places, the
children's video section of Virgin Megastore. Whether or not this poorly
miscategorized placement was of simple ignorance or whether the intent weas
subversive and it was intentionally and deliberately placed in the
children's section, I found myself grinning and reluctant inform anyone of
the error. After all, nobody gave me any forewarnings when I was a kid
either, as some things you just have to discover on your own, and the
thought of some poor innocent parents popping this film on for their kid
only to look on in horror at the visions that would soon unfold sounded
dastardly and funny indeed.
I was 7 years old when Fritz the Cat first hit the screen, and while I didn't see the film for the first time until I was well into my twenties, the film nevertheless had a lasting impact on my childhood. This film had taken on a reputation of mythical proportions in my Brooklyn hometown neighborhood, partly due to the older teens on my street who were all too eager to share shocking details contained therein, as only the best subversive intentions can do, and further securing the film's status as "every parent's nightmare". To a child about to undergo serious growing pains and a naturally growing curiosity towards all things "adult-related", Fritz the Cat was very much my earliest childhood memory of the themes of sex, drugs, rock-n-roll, racism, you name it, and it was a symbol for naughtiness that all coming of age kids couldn't wait to catch a sneak peak of, or at least couldn't wait to reach the age when we could view such subject matter freely.
As a movie, it hasn't lost any of it's impact in 30 years, and fewer films truly capture the grittiness and raw edge of New York city in the 70's (French Connection is another good example). I dare say that it could be considered more offensive now than ever, as I fear that today many just might not "get it," despite our self-proclamation that we've come a long way in maturity and tolerance of such sensitive issues. Modern society has become so politically correct and desensitized to controversial issues that we're less tolerant and understanding of the original intent of a film such as this, especially when it's messages are not consistent with our modern value system. Thus, some of the obvious stereotypes presented in this film (such as the pigs portraying cops and the crows portraying blacks, for example), could never be presented in a film today. Granted, these images were meant to be offensive in the 70's as well, but they were obviously taken in a different light back then, as they were indicative of a specific brand of biting satire found in the 70's and hippie culture and a reflection of how that particular generation could openly address such social issues. These issues, such as racism, are clearly still relevant today, we just address them in a different manner, which is why Fritz the Cat still has potency yet is more or less looked upon as a curious time capsule of a bygone era today.
From what I had heard of this film and the other user comments posted,
I was expecting a simple little shock cartoon. What I got was good kick
in the pants. And I mean that in a good way. "Fritz the Cat" in many
ways exposes the 1960's more than the live action films of its own
The movie starts with 3 construction workers talking on top of an unfinished building. The dialogue is very spontaneous and almost seems ad-libbed. These types of conversations are sprinkled throughout the 80 minute film.
It then transitions to Fritz the cat, a college student who, like many of that era I'm sure, is not sure what it's all for. He decides to "do something real" and ventures into Harlem. From here he meets a wide assortment of people, incites a riot, and has sex with many a woman. It may not always have a point, but the movie has one fun segment after another with little breathing room. Sometimes unnecessarily shocking, sometimes surprisingly inspired, but always quick on its feet.
So please give it a chance. It's a lot more than the notorious cartoon porn it's been labeled as. It's a fun romp through the deprived New York of the 60's, except this time with cartoon characters! What's not to like?
The story concerns a classic 60's hero, Fritz, and his adventures
through the urban underground
He loves sex and constantly claims and
declares the glories of revolution
At first he is happy with just sex,
but as the story moves through exotic adventures he discovers that the
only way he can truly be a revolutionary is to join up with one of the
There, he's over his head
In sharp contrast to Walt Disney's soft characters, Fritz is seen providing a bunch of screaming female cats, placing drugs, and having lots of fun We are taken through Harlem where, in this case, the blacks are portrayed as jive-talking crows Fritz is not a fantasy, but an animation venture into super-reality, at least as Bakshi sees it
The animation is unpolished, graceless, but very effective It has an unrefined or unfinished, renewable energy that brings out some of the social results of the confused sixties
Anyone who didn't like Fritz the Cat is not looking at the film in the
way. A lot of the reviews I've read basically said that it is nothing
than a bad film that strives only on shock value to get an audience. I
read that it doesn't have much of a storyline and only revolves around sex
and drugs......so what else did you expect a movie about the slackers of
60s to have? Did the stoners of that decade NOT behave the way Fritz does
in the movie? In order to understand the point of the movie you have to
yourself into Fritz's shoes and let him guide you through his life as a
college drop-out trying to find his purpose (Existentialism for those who
are not familiar with philosophy) in life and still have a good time. Of
course his journey leads you to animal orgies and a crow that hides pot in
awkward places, but that is the beauty of this movie--it's about freedom!
also do not believe it is outdated because Fritz's trippy surroundings and
his pseudo-intellectual thoughts were enough to make me melt! It's all
about the mood. The animation and music put the viewer in a hypnotic
where nothing else matters except pleasure and happiness. If you can't
identify with Fritz then you have lost the feel of what it's like being
And just for some peoples' info. the movie is not X-rated because it has explicit sex scenes (any viewer of pornography, also X-rated in some form, knows that we have seen much more of the human body then is depicted in this film), it is X-rated because there are CARTOON ANIMALS HAVING SEX. Anyone who would give this film an R-rating because there are no close-ups should not plan on an MPAA career in the near future
This is a film not for everyone. Pure and simple it is offensive, and at times intentionally gross. Besides this fact, it holds the honor of the first X rated cartoon, huge box office sales and inspired by the comic book genius Robert Crumb. Unfortunately this film was made without his permission and it probably would have been better had he put in his own brand of humor in it. This is not to dishonor the writers and animators who spent two years making this. This holds a place in our culture for many reasons, especially since it represented the college kids who just had to get out and rebel. That with the drug abuse, and graphic sex scenes makes the viewing of it one that should probably be engaged in alone. Overall, a hoot and a holler 10 out of 10!
I came of age in New York City during the 1960s and shared many of the same trials and tribulations of Fritz the Cat. It's hard to find your kicks when everyone around you is spaced out and hung up on aggression. All us long-hairs got a bad rap, like Fritz, because we were confused about what it is we wanted. For those of us who lived, we began to age to the point of getting knowledge and understanding. Of course by the time we understood that it was too late to do anything about it. The scene was too weird and we were too confused. Fritz the Cat is like a lot of the guys I hung around with; full of ideas and short on ambition. This film is a perfect view of what some people saw in the 1960s. 3 1/2 stars out of 4.
Technically speaking, this movie should not have been made. Robert Crumb did
not approve of it. But frankly, this movie took the Fritz character far
beyond anything in ZAP magazine (IMHO).
Firstly, the animation is superb and diverse. A variety of styles was used, each appropriate to the mood of the scene.
Secondly, the characterization was great. Fritz's travels bring him in contact with every woodpecker and lunatic imaginable. And the ensuing conversations are...well...let's leave it at "unique". Fans of movies like Roadside Prophets, Slacker, and Highway 61 should definitely appreciate this film.
Not a film for kids. Contains nudity, drugs, and about everything else you can think of.
That is how the 1960s were described by the narrator in the beginning of this film. Fritz the Cat is a famous movie for a number of reasons, most stemming from it being the first feature-length adult cartoon and having an "X" rating. There were controversies surrounding its creation with director Ralph Bakshi and character creator Robert Crumb. The film is like nothing I have ever seen before. It has a unique animation process that makes everything reek seediness, despair, and cry for social change. Bakshi wrote the script which really is nothing more than the knife that cuts through all the 60's BS - from existentialism to the drug culture to the love generation to African-American perspectives to militancy. Nothing is spared as the counterculture is laid bared and examined through the eyes, ears, fears, and desires of Fritz the Cat. Along the way, Fritz experiments with just about anything - including lots of sex, drugs, and sex. While the film definitely is quite vulgar in many ways with some of the most odious characterizations of otherwise cute and cuddly animals and depicting lots of strong sexual situations(though in no way deserving the "X" by today's standards), Fritz the Cat is also an intelligent look at one character's drive to find himself and meaning in his life - perhaps a symbol for the whole decade the film is examining. The end result is nothing conclusive - also perhaps a symbol. Bakshi's script is in some ways profound and thought-provoking and in some ways infantile and vile - his obvious dislike of police just one example. But what had my attention more than anything else was the animation - particularly in exterior shots not containing characters. There is one scene where the slums of Harlem are integral to the story. Bakshi uses his camera to zoom in on quite an impressive animated background shot of a field lost amongst the slums of Harlem. It is the very essence of seedy existence in an uncaring world. There are many other shots too that have that same power, but let's not forget that even with the intelligent at times script and the animation, much of Fritz the Cat is used solely to arouse - either arouse some primal feelings or arouse offense. A landmark film at any rate whether for good or for bad.
Ralph Bakshi's first film, is flawed but enjoyable. It is about Cat in a romp through the 1960's in New York through sex drugs and Rock and Roll. The film starts off funny then ends up depressing. What the movie essentially is, is a satire on the counter culture of the 1960's. It is one of Ralph Bakshi's best, and definitely worth a look.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I have mixed feelings about Bakshi and Krantz's 1972 film adaptation of the Fritz the Cat books. Robert Crumb is one of my favourite underground cartoonists and satirists, and it's more than a little frustrating to see the liberties the director and producer take with his priceless characters. When the screenplay sticks closely to Crumb's original comic strips, it's fine, but every time it deviates from the source material, it falls as flat as a pancake. Bakshi, who constructed the screenplay from various Fritz stories written and drawn by Crumb between 1964 and 1968, proves himself to be rather incompetent, piecing and patching together the diverse elements with tiresome experimental sequences, dull musical interludes and downright crude sex and violence - Crumb certainly never steered clear of putting down his darkest fears and fantasies on paper, but Bakshi's scenes of a horse-woman being whipped with a motorcycle chain and Fritz chasing after a buxom female crow are embarrassingly wide of the mark. For all his excesses, Crumb knew when to exercise restraint, and Bakshi's refusal to do so is what ultimately sinks this film. There are, however, some very good scenes and the animation is occasionally brilliant, which is why the chapter select button on your DVD remote control will certainly come in useful should you decide to check this one out. The film is also remarkably truthful in its depiction of the New York City of the late sixties as it really was, with bad vibes, segregation, drugs, rape, murder and squalor as far as the eye could see. Sharp-eyed Crumb enthusiasts will also spot Av 'n' Gar (or is it the Simp and the Gimp?) and Angelfood McSpade in a couple of scenes.
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