Created in 1972, Fritz the Cat caused a controversial stir at the time of its creation. The film was one of the first animated feature films that received an X rating. It is based off a strip comic series by Robert Crumb. Fritz the Cat had references in it that dealt with what was going on in the world: free love, college life of the time, and left or right wing politics are a few. The film certainly introduced a new use for animation in a way that America was not used to. Usually animation was for a younger audience and not taken all too seriously. With Fritz the Cat, Ralph Bakshi managed to make a successful X rated film which inspired a slew of others to do the same although none were as successful as Fritz.
With Fritz the Cat, Bakshi was able to create emotional depth that animation had begun to lack. It is an animated film but does not hold elements that other animated films had, like those by Disney- singing and dancing characters for example.
Since Bakshi did not have much money to use on Fritz the Cat, the film is not what it could have been but the animators that did take part in creating the film took awhile to assemble. The animators went the route of traditional animation that used cels but Bakshi had to cut corners with costs in some areas like pencil tests and models sheets. Fritz the Cat’s animation is fluid and the characters moved, and moved often. Stylistically, Fritz the Cat is simple and technical. While the characters are generally solid colors with clean lines, the background is painted and the outlines do not contain all the color.
The sequel of Fritz the Cat, The Nine Lives of Fritz the Cat, shares stylistic elements with the first movie. It still offers the same risqué activities and language. Characters are still kept simple with a painted background.
A movie create a couple of years before by Disney, the Arsitocats, was created with the same traditional animation technique. The characters are are still drawn simply but unlike Fritz the Cat, the characters in Aristocats have a sketchy outline. But, like Fritz the Cat characters, Aristocat’s characters are constantly in motion and interacting with things around them. The background is more detailed and ‘soft’ but were also painted. The outlines are neater and the colors tend to stay within the lines.
Fritz the Cat may be an animated film but it was outside the norm for animation of its time. Intended for an older audience than the usual child’s animation, it caused quite a stir. Now it may be more acceptable for the level of violence, alcohol and drugs but during its release it was something not seen before for an animated film on such a large scale. As an X rated film it caused rather dramatic responses from viewers but was still widely viewed.