Ralph Bakshi

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Ralph Bakshi in 2009

Ralph Bakshi (born October 29, 1938, in Haifa, Palestine (now Israel) is an American cartoonist and a director of animation and occasionally live-action films. He directed cult classics such as Fritz the Cat, Heavy Traffic, Coonskin, and Wizards, as well as the more commercially accepted 1978 animated film version of The Lord of the Rings.


  • Sweetheart, I'm the biggest ripped-off cartoonist in the history of the world, and that's all I'm going to say.
  • Four guys could get together and make their own movie, in a year, but nobody does it 'cause they got bills to pay. What I'm saying is, that's what I would do, if I was young. I wouldn't even get a job. I'd get a couple of computers and a bunch of guys, we'd eat crap for a year, millionaires the next year if we did a good film. It's so extraordinary. Instead of crying about getting a job at Disney or "things are falling apart", things the old animators were doing when I was a kid, "it's all crumbling!" It's not crumbling, you're crumbling! You got these computers that could do this stuff for nothing! What do you do with it? You try to get a job for some asshole studio. It's so dumb.
  • When I had my own company on Traffic and Coonskin, all metaphors were able to get to the screen clearly. In Cool World, with the producer and Paramount watching me carefully to make sure I was in good taste, I instinctively poured stuff into the picture that I wanted to talk about. But when you force stuff, it's not really very clear. But, I have a great love for Max Fleischer, especially some of his Black & White Betty Boops with their strange Cab Calloway and Louis Armstrong black folk tale jazz hipness that part of Cool World was a homage in style to those films and that style of cartooning. The Grim Reaper is right out of a Max Fleischer cartoon or old Terrytoons, which is why I hired and love Milton Knight the artist. He understands totally the Uncle Remus fable like qualities behind Fleischer and Terrytoons. Milton Knight is probably the purest artist of that style in the business. He has a hard time because studios think he is old fashioned...but that's the point.
  • Did I have a responsibility to discuss issues? Absolutely. Bobby Dylan was discussing issues – Disney wasn’t.
  • Wizards was about the creation of the state of Israel and the Holocaust, about the Jews looking for a homeland, and about the fact that fascism was on the rise again, I thought. That was way before the Right Wing made their appearance again, and I felt that things were shifting back. So on that level, Wizards was a very personal film.
  • Sick of Hollywood, tired of fighting and selling out as an artist. I don't believe anyone should do the same thing for the rest of his life. We get a very short time on this planet. Challenging oneself is very important. It's not that I couldn't make other great animated films, but I'd done what I wanted to do, which was make animation an adult medium, if one wanted it to be. And I'd proven to myself that it could work, and it was time to move on to something else. When I sell a painting, I get very excited. I need one person to like what I do, not a million. It's a different structure here. Plus the Hollywood thing. I mean, Hollywood is no place to grow up, no place to live. It's no place to have any friends, no place to enjoy life. It's a disgusting, horrible, craze-driven town. It's only how much do you make, or how fancy a car you have, that determines your status there. And everyone's lying so much that they don't even know they're lying anymore. There's no reality to Hollywood. The fees they pay directors are obnoxious, the money they spend on movies could feed entire starving African... I mean, fuck 'em. I made a few bucks and got out. I don't want to spend the rest of my life with those people. They're disgusting people, and you can quote me on that. There's a lot of great talent there, but it's no place I wanted to spend much time. I'd rather spend time with Rembrandt and Goya at home. They're better company than those schmucks who never read Lord Of The Rings.

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