Heavy Traffic – 1973
Beverly Hope Atkinson
Review by Wayne Malin
Originally X rated this animated film follows a half-Jewish/half-Italian 22 year old man dealing with his battling parents and growing up in a tough section of NYC. He’s a cartoonist and is trying to sell his stuff but only underground publications will take it. He gets a black girlfriend and things go totally out of control.
Probably writer/director Ralph Bakshi’s best work. The story is kind of vague but the set pieces themselves are just great. However, this is a very extreme movie–the characters are vicious and violent, there’s a huge amount of explicit violence and there’s extremely strong sexual content. A definite one of a kind–the many highlights include some very funny fights between his mother and father. Also there’s lots of neat mixing of live action and animation.
I originally saw this at a revival theatre back in the early 80s–it really blew me away. It was depressing, funny, shocking and incredible. Seeing it again 20 years later it’s not as shocking as it once was or as depressing…but it’s still unbelievable.
The original X rating has been lowered to an R–purportedly it was edited to get that but I don’t see any differences. I’m no prude, but I think this film deserves an NC-17. It would get it if it was done with live actors. So–I recommend it, but only if you can handle extreme content