"Heavy images, crazy violence, insanity verging on insecurity and brilliance" (Films & Filming)! Heavy Traffic, the second feature from writer/director Ralph Bakshi (Fritz the Cat), combines a quick-edit pace, a frenetic s... more »tory line and an array of eye-popping animation and live-action styles. "Powerful, raw and valid" (Los Angeles Times), this "remarkable blend" of filmic styles is a "hypnotic, life-giving experience" (The Hollywood Reporter)! Michael, a young artist who lives with his neurotic mother and two-timing father, escapes the absurd and often ugly side of life on New York's tough streets by satirizing its rich yet wacky characters in wildly entertaining cartoons. From the gruff homeless and wisecracking prostitutes to gun-toting gangsters and corrupt cops, Michael's world becomes an outlandish kaleidoscope of shocking images and horrifying events that are either a testament of his wild imagination or a reminder of the strangeness of reality.« less
Solo Goodspeed | Granada Hills, CA United States | 10/15/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I remember very well the effect this film had on me right after leaving the theater; everywhere I looked on the drive home, people looked like cartoons. In Heavy Traffic, animation artist Ralph Bakshi presents us with a look at life in the early 70s (late 60s?), city style .... and this city is gritty, not entirely pretty ....Michael Corleone (not the only reference to other popular films of the times) scribbles away at his drawing board while his Catholic father and Jewish mother wage Armageddon outside his door. He finds comfort and release seeing the world as an absurd, psychotic cartoon. Pretty much a loner, his main connection to the outside world is a black bargirl named Carol who works right downstairs from him and slips him drinks for his entertaining sketches. An unfortunate incident with a drag queen associate costs Carol her job, and she and Michael end up out on the streets together, since he can't seem to make ANY sort of job situation come together. They form a sort of hustling alliance, with him as her pimp, and they nosedive into dark urban realms of the quick buck and the inevitable personal compromises involved.All this is interposed with images of live city backdrops and numerous references to a pinball game. Ralph Bakshi's animated vision is a moving work of underground pop art which, despite limitations, was a groundbreaking achievement that pushed the frontiers of American animation thousands of miles. I can see the influence of this film (and Bakshi's work in general) on the likes of Matt Groening, Don Bluth, and yes, even parts of Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Heavy Traffic is dark, rude and dangerous. At times it has an almost experimental feel, moving at a stream of consciousness pace more than any conventional narrative. Its portayal of characters is raw and extreme, has an exaggerated sort of believability to it. It also has the feel of a semi-autobiography, with its portayal of a creative misfit struggling against the odds for survival, if not personal validation. This very personal work goes places other animations of the time wouldn't even consider, was rated X at the time of its original release, and was re-released very shortly afterward in a lightly watered-down R-version. The recent DVD release appears to be a restoration of the original artwork, is a nice clean print, despite the full-frame format and mono soundtrack. It would be nice to see this touched up with a slightly refurbished soundtrack (it IS animation, after all); at the same time the compressed sound lends to the quaint sort of 70s feel to it, creating an air of nostalgia rivaling that of The Iron Giant. And these guys weren't even trying!My appreciation for this special film has not diminished over the years; indeed, I understand it a bit more as an adult. It captures the dark, skewed out, surrealistic beauty of the urban underbelly, delivers some nasty bellylaughs, shows us the world as an oversized cartoon arcade game, and reminds us that all we can do sometimes is just keep playing that game. Even if we do end up getting our head blown off by a paraplegic midget on a skateboard. This stuff happens ......."
NecroComicon | The Inn at Innsmouth | 11/17/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It is about time that studios started looking into their back catalogues and releasing some old gems especially animated ones. This is a surreal reality cartoon from the genius Ralph Bakshi, a blighted but brightly lit urban landscape filled with far out characters. NOT FOR KIDS Now if we could get them to release all of Bakshi's work Wizards- Fritz the Cat- Fritz the Cat 2- Streetfight- Lord of the Rings- I would especially love to see the short lived but spectacular Mighty Mouse series he did put on dvd! Even todays animated laugh fests on tv don't compare to this mans work."
Get out of your Ghetto
Ronnie Clay | Winnsboro, Louisiana | 09/12/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Breathtaking. Get past your own discomfort with relating to racial sterotypes and realize that this film is genius. A love story at heart, and perhaps one of the most profoundly honest and insightful films to date, Heavy Traffic broke the barriers of 'political correctness' before the people who coined that term were even born. If nothing else consider what is being said about settling for the familiar and not venturing outside of your personal neighborhood. Awe inspiring, Ralph Bakshi should be canonized."
Highest Quality Surrealistic Piece
Alex Petchenev | Nevada, USA | 07/08/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"What is to be highlighted: The highest quality of this truly classic surrealistic piece. I take it as a qualifying American answer to such European surrealistic classics as Luis Bunuel's "The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie." Each absurd of our life, pictured there, is blown-up to a quite visible and sensible proportion. It is my opinion, that "Heavy Traffic" even surpasses "Fritz the Cat," regarding such qualities as range and depth of depicted ugliness of the "dark side" of human nature.
Also important is than not everybody appreciates surrealism. Therefore, this item is not for everyone, and especially is unsuitable for not mature audience (because of quite credible quality of certain graphic scenes).
I find as no surprise that some of the most notorious faces from "Heavy Traffic" can be spotted in recent times in many places, take "The Simpsons" as example."
yann schinazi | colorado | 08/15/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Ralph Bakshi is part of a sacred cult of filmmakers who are driven by their passion for their art. His films are aggressive, non-passive in every sense of the term and determined to inspire thought and reaction. To see his films is to witness images so powerful that they seem to break through the screen and enter you. Bakshi, the working-class hero, was always determined to let it be known that he made films for that very audience. A two-fisted filmmaker whose films are full of a kind of grunge-poetry, 'graffiti animation', as Bakshi called it. 'Heavy Traffic', his raw-edged, moving, autobiographical film, goes beyond the limits of art, the limits of cinema, to become a part of you, the reaction the audience gives to this kind of film is a basic part of the film itself. Bakshi's film flies like a Bukowski poem, some sequences so powerfully unsettling that one forgets about everything else. His sad, stark images of a city destroyed by something or another, recalls Marco Ferreri's haunting images of the dead ape on the beach in his masterpiece 'Bye Bye Monkey'. In 'Heavy Traffic', Bakshi tests the limits of art to make something emotionally chaotic. Many will be moved by how natural the dialogue sounds (he recorded most of it on the streets), a lot of it obviously inspired by his own life. Certain scenes, such as the one where the autobiographical protagonist walks with the only person who understands him and mutters 'we're getting nowhere fast' while a symphony strikes chaotically, echoing something we might have heard at one time or another, captures the whole apocalyptic sadness that is so difficult to obtain: melancholy and yet dreadful. Bakshi's cinema is so contradictory and yet so fairly composed in all its ambuguity, that (much like the films of Bernardo Bertolucci) that one can barely have a coherent response to his films: since most of the power comes from the raw force of his images, it is impossible to summarize his films with words, one must use images to describe images. So the chaos remains, and yet we feel we understand, it is the power of art."