Emru Townsend: You said in the commentary: the things that scare you, you make movies about.
Ralph Bakshi: That's right.
What scares you now?
You got an hour? What scares me now is the lack of morality in our nation, America, and the world. What scares me now is that there's been as much genocide in the past twenty years as there was in the Holocaust, and no one cares. What scares me now is everything is sort of done with a spin, and if the spin is right, the object, say the invasion of a country, is done. The lack of great novels, the lack of great speakers—they seem to be nonexistent, and fewer and fewer companies are owning everything. Which means that your press has been bypassed and subjugated. What scares me now is a religious fanaticism in all countries coming to the fore again. The killing under the name of God again has started in all kinds of different religions. It's now religiously correct to kill people if you are religious. And that is sweeping the entire globe. AIDS, of course. I can go on and on and on. But I won't, because why have you vomit? Why scare the shit out of you? You're just a fucking bunch of animators who hate rotoscope. [laughs]
What you're saying is the same thing that I describe to my wife as “horror upon horror upon horror without end."
That's right. Oh, there'll be an end. There'll be an end to it. It's not going to be pretty.
So again the question comes. Why haven't we heard from you? I'm really curious. It doesn't necessarily have to be a film, but you were so good at expressing your outrage on celluloid before—
But there's nothing to sell. No one wants to talk to me. No one wants to talk to me unless there's something to sell. In other words, if they've got a product in mind they'll listen to my bullshit, because the motion picture company that's paying Josh to sit here and listen to this is paying him because they want to sell DVDs. If they weren't trying to sell DVDs, who gives a shmuck what I say? They'd go on to the next person. It's all about economics. So if I have something to sell, they'll allow me this forum to rant and rave. It doesn't matter how much I rant and rave, as long as the object sells. I can say anything I want, because all I'm trying to do is sell this fucking object for these people. They take my bullshit because basically they want to sell something. That's what it's all about. If there's nothing to sell there's no reason to talk to me. I don't make any sense if there's nothing to sell [laughs] That's what the whole world's about. If there's something to sell, they'll talk to you.
You're a porno star, you've got tits to sell, they'll look at your tits. But if you're an old lady they won't look at your tits anymore. You know that. You're trying to sell your fucking magazine.
Have you pitched a movie in the last, oh, I don't know, since Cool World—which I hate to mention?
[makes strangling noises] You really know how to hurt a guy.
I never did see Cool World, so I can't say whether I liked it or not.
Thank you very much for that. You stepped out of that one nicely.
I thought so.
I basically pitched Wizards II to Fox two weeks ago.
And of course you can't say anything now.
They can't say anything until Wizards I sells. What the fuck do they know? I mean they don't know what the fuck Wizards is all about anyhow. If the DVD sells, I'll do it. If the DVD doesn't sell, why the fuck should they bother? The fact that they're not putting billboards up all over the country to help me sell the DVD doesn't matter. Somehow I've got to magically with Josh pull it out of magazines like yours and dot-com shit ... I don't know, maybe we'll get lucky. I don't know. Maybe I should put down Lord of the Wizards, and they'll think it's Lord of the Rings and buy this shit. We should change the title to Lord of the Wizards.
[Anyway,] I pitched Wizards II. That's what I pitched.
And of course it could be really ironic if someone said something like, "In the spirit of Lord of the Rings" considering you did the first one.
I'll send it to them! Are you kidding? I'm not going to let that one slide. "In the spirit of Lord of the Rings, I want to do Wizards II." I'll use it.
[I've been asked] to finish Rings in animation. I really don't want to.
That was one of the questions I wanted to ask.
I know that. Everyone wants to ask that question. Why should you be different?
Because we're all curious. We love Lord of the Rings the books, we liked your Lord of the Rings, we liked the Peter Jackson one.
The picture was just done. I don't want to do a picture that's been done. He's finished it! It's no fun doing something that's been done. It's just no fun for me. Why would I want to spend three or five years working doing something that someone else did?
If I got the same money he had, I could grind him into the ground with mine, but the point is, why bother? Everyone knows that anyhow.
I'm definitely a fan of your version of Lord of the Rings, as well as the Peter Jackson one.
[My version] had more character, more soul, more heart. Less sneaker selling.
We thought it was pretty obvious at several points in the Peter Jackson version that they did take a couple of riffs from you.
Uh huh. They took everything from me. The ring wraiths were taken from me. There was a lot! I mean, I designed the ring wraiths.
Now, I know Peter Jackson said he also saw your films, and obviously it was some degree of an influence. I mean, how do you take that?
Oh, some degree of an influence! Holy shit! Some degree of an influence! What are you talking about?
Hey, I can be diplomatic either way, see? [laughs]
Let me ask you a question. You're a bright lad in Montreal, right? Some degree of an influence. Look. I'm sitting here with a book called Lord of the Rings, and no film to look at. Every fucking thing you're looking at in Rings I—the design, Gimli, Aragon, the dwarfs, the elves, all that stuff—I came up with, basically because there was nothing to look at. Peter Jackson looked at it and said, I like that, I don't like that, I can improve on that. Who are you kidding? Look at his Lothlorien. Look at my backgrounds of Lothlorien. Take a look! He had much more to see than I did, and if you don't think he lifted it over and over again, you're wrong. I mean, how did he design a knife in Lord of the Rings? How did he design a sword? How did he design the dwarf with his axe? How did he design the fur around him? Why did Peter Jackson put fur around the dwarf? Because I put fur around the dwarf! Why would the dwarf have fur naturally? You see, I could give you a billion little things. I wish I had a movie to look at. That's fine for Peter [Jackson]. But for you to say "somewhat"—shit. Shit, that's ridiculous.
Well, you know, I've gotta be diplomatic. I've got to be honest—
What? Why? Why do you gotta be diplomatic?
Because I haven't seen your Lord of the Rings in a bout a decade. So my memory's not as good as it could be.
Then go see it! Go see it. How about under the tree, under the limb, when the wraith on the road is trying to find Frodo, Sam, and the guys were hiding under the bush, under the tree, under the limb on the road, and it was on top? Where did that come from?
See, you answered my next question, which was going to be, how did you feel about that? [laughs]
How did you feel about that? You're the guy trying to be diplomatic, I'm not. How did you feel about that? I'm interested in how you felt.
Well, like I said, I hadn't seen yours in a while, so I didn't have as good a memory as to how much it was. But there were some things that I saw—
Aren't you curious? Why didn't you take a look to see the shot-for-shot cuts and background for background?
Oh, I'm plenty curious. Unfortunately, I don't get that much sleep as it is. [laughs]
Well, let's take a look. You slap it in, you roll down there at high speed, and there it is. But you don't want to do that, because you'd be facing something you don't want to see, and you wouldn't know how to write about it, and then Peter Jackson will get mad about you, and you can't afford that and he's a hot director. You'd best forget about the whole thing and hide.
Well, we all know I talk to Peter Jackson every week. [laughs]
Did Peter Jackson ever actually contact you at any point?
He can kiss my fucking ass. No he hasn't. He didn't have to contact me. He had my movie. Why would he contact me? He robbed me to begin with. What right did he have to make the Rings?
It does happen on occasion. I don't know all the details behind it, so I had to ask to find out.
Ask me another question.
So we won't be seeing you and Peter Jackson in a bar laughing it up anytime soon.
You won't see me and my first wife, either. There are certain people you don't want to go near, right?