Fire And Ice: The Forgotten Adventure Film
Ralph Bakshi is a legend in the world of adult animation, and while doing my research for other video essays on my channel, I continuously came across a film that seems to have been forgotten by many – Fire And Ice! So in this article, I am going to break down Bakshi’s forgotten action-adventure film that brought Princess Teegra and the caveman Larn to life. We will also discuss the animation, reception, production, and story while I deliver my personal opinion on several aspects of the film. The style for the film was heavily inspired by the works of fantasy artist Frank Frazetta and we will take a deep look at his impact on the movie, its world, and the art style.
You can read the full article below.
Fire and Ice: The Forgotten Adventure Film
Fire and Ice: The Forgotten Adventure Film
Background of Fire and Ice
“If you love comic books but can’t bear the unnecessary bother of turning pages, ‘Fire and Ice’ may be for you. It would help if you were a sex-obsessed 12-year old boy, but it isn’t essential.”
These are the infamous words used to describe cult classic animation film FIRE AND ICE. I started this article with that quote because I don’t think there has ever been a more accurate way to describe a film in the history of cinema. In this article, we will be breaking down the production, reception, animation, and story of FIRE AND ICE: THE FORGOTTEN ADVENTURE FILM by Ralph Bakshi.
By the year 1982, fantasy films had proven that they could be successful at the box office. After the likes of BEASTMASTER and CONAN, THE BARBARIAN captured the hearts of millions of moviegoers, animation legend Ralph Bakshi, the director behind FRITZ THE CAT and THE LORD OF THE RINGS realized the potential of an animated adult fantasy film. Ralph Bakshi was inspired by influential fantasy artist and friend Frank Frazetta and approached him about the creation of FIRE AND ICE. Frank Frazetta was a renowned artist whose illustrations lay down the template for fantasy art to this day.
The two then began working together to create the danger and adventure-filled world in which the film would take place. Bakshi received 1.2 million$ to finance FIRE AND ICE and 20th Century FOX agreed to distribute the film after witnessing the financial longevity of another Bakshi project, Wizards.
As FIRE AND ICE was the most action-oriented film Bakshi had worked on till that point he once again took advantage of the roto-scoping technique. Roto-scoping is a technique in which the film is first filmed in live-action, before being drawn over and animated. This process allowed for a heightened sense of realism in the look, feel, and movement of the characters on screen. And the live-action footage that is shot in a studio is easily placed into a fantastical setting. While roto-scoping is an incredibly clever technique, it is not necessarily a quick or easy one and many individuals work tirelessly to bring the scenes to life. Bakshi and Frazetta were heavily involved in the production of the live-action sequences, from casting sessions to the final shoot.
The film was released to mixed reviews at best and the reception could be described as lukewarm or tepid with many comparing the movie to the He-Man series and Conan the Barbarian. Usually stating that while the animation was pretty enough, the script left an awful lot to be desired and the scantily clothed protagonists simply proved the film’s lack of substance. However, in 1993, The Online Film Critics Society ranked the film as the 99th greatest animated film of all time.
With the Film’s history done and dusted let’s explore the world of FIRE AND ICE and its story.
The story of Fire and Ice
After about 2 minutes and 30 seconds we are introduced to the world by the narrator and are told that the film takes place during the last great ice age.We learn about a powerful and evil queen by the name of Juliana, whose goal is to extend her kingdom to all the regions of the known world. She bore a son named Nekron who has trained in the dark arts and would eventually become the antagonist of the film.
Together the two created a glacier that would rumble south and destroy all who stood in their way. And that is how the movie starts.
Honestly, like most Bakshi films the narration is captivating and sets up the world beautifully. This was also done incredibly well in the aforementioned Lord of The Rings and Wizards.
But back to the film! Nekron continues to push the glacier southward until it enters the territory of the fire kingdom. As the glacier progresses it crushes the village of our main character Larn. Larn and his brethren stand no chance against the glacier. Nekrons forces then arrive to finish off the remnants of the village as a shadowy figure watches from above.
Juliana then sends a group of minions to Fire Keep with a list of demands for their surrender.
Larn awakens from his injuries and has to fight his way to freedom. It is during this initial confrontation that we get to see the beauty of rotoscoping in action. The live-action realism shines through as characters launch themselves at one another and interact with the environment. Everything feels real and has weight to it. An intense chase ensues as Larn makes his way up through the lush vegetation, ultimately resulting in him being cornered and his only means of escape being a massive drop into a gorge followed by an awkwardly placed transition.
Ultimately, I believe this is an incredibly well-thought-out introduction to the film. We are introduced to our lead character and the evil minions that he will be facing throughout the film. We are shown how the film and in turn the fights will be set up stylistically. And so, ultimately, after this sequence you will know if this is a film you are going to enjoy or not.
We then move on to Fire Keep. Here we are introduced to the fire king and his daughter – Princess Teegra… And this is the most clothes you will see her wear in the entire movie. Nekrons minions offer the deal of surrender to which the fire king refuses, sparking off the major conflict of this film. Because of this refusal, Princess Teegra is kidnapped and the slowest scene in history takes place.
I have no idea why this scene was placed in slow motion… It completely contradicts the emotion one would feel during a kidnapping. If I were being kidnapped my adrenaline would be running all over the place and my mind would be running at 200% capacity.
So Nekrons forces take off with Teegra after a successful kidnapping but very quickly, almost unrealistically quickly, grow thirsty and stop off at a lake to drink some water. The evil minions through Teegra into the lake and a very unsettling sequence takes place where Teegra is ultimately objectified for all the boys watching at home. But she uses this to her advantage and makes an attempt to escape while swimming underwater.
She is able to hide inside a log while Nekrons forces begin looking for her, and so begins my favorite scene in the entire movie. This scene is simply fantastic in my opinion. A combination of beautiful animation, an intense setting, and great sound design results in a scene very similar to what we witness in an earlier Bakshi scene from The Lord of The Rings. The tension continues to rise and just when you think Teegra is about to be caught… (Show clip of hand being attacked).
Nekron’s forces then retreat as Teegra leaves her hiding spot. And continues to try escaping the minions who are becoming frustrated and desperate. On the verge of being found again, the forces are attacked by a giant reptile! This was accomplished by using trucks and cranes while filming the live-action sequence, and simply replacing them with monsters while animating.
One surviving minion of the attack is able to track down the princess and even in his near-death state is trying to capture her. Armed with only a pointed stick, princess Teegra thrusts it into his chest to defend herself, and here we start to see a small amount of character development take place. From sheltered princess to a woman willing to fight to survive.
We catch up with Larn, who has been walking across fields, jungles and has now found himself in a swamp where he is being approached by four hungry wolves. He takes out the first quite easily and after the longest, highest scream I have ever heard from a man (Show scream), cleverly vaults himself over the wolves in an attempt to run away. Just as the first wolf is about to catch him, an arrow is shot into its side by a mysterious shooter… and the final two simply walk away…
Night falls as Lars eats a freshly killed boar… Something approaches him… slowly… Of course, it’s Princess Teegra… and the two have a weird confrontation… as she slowly retreats and he follows after her… I guess they are flirting… I mean, I don’t know how cave people flirt… So I guess they are flirting… And with only one conversation spoken between the two of them, they are now cuddling and enjoying a meal… I bet their relationship is going to be full of intellectual conversations.
Their relationship is… not well fleshed out, to say the least. They barely communicate with one another and when they do, their interactions are incredibly short and shallow… This is the most emotional conversation they have…
After some hijinks, the two end up in a lake and are attacked by a giant monster. After some beautiful underwater animation, we see the eye of a monster. After his confrontation with the giant octopus Larn is thrown through the air and onto the shore with a sickening thud. And lays there motionless. Alone once again, Teegra is captured by the evil minions and taken away.
Now Teegra was just crying over this dude… and they have been set up to be the love interests of the movie, but so far they have only shared around 3 and a half minutes on screen together… So… Yeah, their relationship isn’t one of the strengths of this movie.
Larn then awakes, finds himself tied down, and he comes face to face with the mysterious stranger who has been following him through the whole movie. This stranger shares a striking similarity to the bust we see in the ruined city but no connection is ever mentioned on screen, and the character is not given much of a backstory. According to the credits at the end of the film, his name is Darkwolf. The two search for Teegra only to discover that she has been kidnapped.
Teegra has now been tied up with a chain and is belittled by her captors as they laugh at her. As night falls they become drunk and fall asleep. She grabs a knife and attempts to cut her chains before waking the guard. As he awakens she quickly thrusts the knife into his torso and drags his lifeless body away before falling down a ravine.
Larn and Darkwolf arrive at the minions camp and split up to find Teegra. The thick mist makes it easy for the duo to creep closer, and it creates an incredibly creepy aesthetic. The minions awake and attack Darkwolf and larn who easily defeat them. But we very quickly see that between the two, Darkwolf is the superior fighter.
Teegra awakes at the bottom of the ravine with a large man standing over her. He is incredibly intimidating but doesn’t mean her any harm. With his bare hands, he rips the chains apart and picks her up. During this, the glacier continues to move closer to fire keep and the king eventually tells his son that he needs to go to Nekron and negotiate a truce. His son is in complete disagreement but his father forces him… At this point, I honestly forgot these were characters in the film.
We once again return to teegra, who has been carried to the hut of a woman named Roleeil. Who is wearing the most revealing dress I have ever seen. And in fact gives me serious “Lucretia” from Spartacus vibes. While her words are comforting, there is something unsettling about her… and it seems that she has poisoned Teegra and put her to sleep. She grabs one of her hairs and throws it into a cauldron who discovers she is being hunted by Nekron. She then decides to hand Teegra over to Nekron for a price.
We cut back to Larn and Darkwolf who are combatting the dogs of Nekron as they are often referred to, or sub-humans as well. Darkwolf then throws Larn to the side, forcing him to go find Teegra, as he stands up to Nekrons forces alone. More slow-motion takes place before DarkWolf lets out a roar so loud the skies change color! Before quickly cutting away… This movie really likes its cuts.
The same large creature that rescued Teegra has now found her pursuers. He soon meets his rather emotional end as he walks into Roleeils hut before collapsing on the ground with a spear in his back. In anger, Roleeil screams at the dogs before being stabbed and thrown to the ground… A defenseless Teegra is then captured once again… Slowly becoming a boring and repetitive cycle. And Roleeils hut begins to burn. Larn sees the fire in the distance and begins to run at it.
And then, we witness probably the creepiest scene in the movie, and one I thought was so interesting and I wish was given more time to develop. Larn arrives at the burned-down hut finding nothing but ash… Until Roleeil arises from the ashes as a rotting skeleton with bones exposed. Flip I loved this sequence! The animation and voice acting for Roleeil are incredibly creepy and unsettling. I LOVE IT! Larn tries to explain that he wants to save Teegra from Nekron to the corpse of Roleeil, however, she blames Teegra for her death, and so refuses to hand over any information she may have. This is an incredibly interesting concept to me. How do you beg for something from a dead person… What do you have to offer them? I just wish the movie spent more time on this scene. But ultimately Larn convinces Roleeil to tell him where he can find Teegra after guaranteeing Nekrons death… and so Roleeil tells Larn to head to Agatar before she crumbles to dust.
Larn then races to Agatar where he sees Teegra is captured with no means of escape. Larn then sees the Prince from Fire Keep and his ship that is heading to Ice Peak and Larn sneaks aboard.
Once at Ice Peak, Juliana presents Teegra to Nekron and offers her as a bride. To which Nekron angrily refuses… He’s clearly no simp. Teegra, then begs Nekron to take her as his ally if it means bringing peace between their people. His response is to laugh at her and cast her aside. He has no desire for peace, only to rule. He hates the notion of sharing his throne so much that he threatens to end his own mother’s life. Teegra is then thrown down into a pit full of dead bodies… and for no, we have no idea what her fate is.
The prince’s ship finally arrives as Larn jumps off and heads his own way. Here we see an incredibly interesting scene in which the prince and his soldiers march up to Ice Peak. I absolutely love how the sub-humans bark and howl as the soldiers travel below them. Making them create these animalistic sounds hammers home the point that these aren’t true humans, that they haven’t fully evolved… They have an inherent fight within them to survive and they lack the kinder and warmer emotions that make us truly human. The prince continues to move on bravely, however, unflinching in his resolve. (We pay no head to such trash) His confidence and bravery are all for naught however because as soon as the prince attempts to form any kind of truce between the two Kingdoms, Nekron uses his dark magic to force the prince and his soldiers to kill themselves and each other. Nekrons powers have never really been explained, and they seem to come out of nowhere.
Nekron then has the prince’s body thrown into the same pit as Teegra, and when she awakens, the first thing she sees is her dead brother’s body. While Teegra mourns for her brother, Larn has found his way into the throne room and launches an arrow into the shoulder of Nekron, who just brushes it off… Another power of his I guess. Nekron then unarms Larn using his powers and uses his guards to subdue Larn. Because of his mighty plot armor Larn is not killed but offered a fair fight… The two then begin an incredibly slow fight that is probably the least exciting in the entire movie. Their swords only meet three times before Larn lands a slice across Nekrons torso and Nekron then uses his powers to cast Larn aside. Larn is then thrown around by Nekrons force powers… Yet another new power… and once again because of plot armor Larn is not killed, but instead just kept captive.
After Teegras’s mourning, she takes her brother’s knife and attempts to make her own escape. She then hears Larns groans as he struggles to fight his captors. She watches as he gets thrown into a cell before trying to communicate with him. She then rushes to find him a key so they can escape together.
And that is probably the most character development you will get in this movie. Princess Teegra, a damsel in distress, to a woman trying to save the protagonist. It might not be much, but it is something.
She is very quickly captured, however, and at the same time, for plot convenience purposes a guard opens Larns cell to look for him. Larn then attacks the guard and after several incredibly impactful punches is able to escape. Being chased by minions Larn continues to run, but soon a storm appears out of nowhere and we hear Nekrons laugh. Another one of his powers I guess… Larn continues to run through the blizzard until it just stops for some reason… before collapsing on the ground exhausted… And it is at this point that I ask myself… Why has no one frozen to death? Everyone… I mean everyone is half-naked and surrounded by ice… But everyone is okay? Yeah, that makes sense… But just as Larn is about to be killed, Darkwolf appears and sends two arrows into the chest of the closest dog. He then quickly dispatches the final 3 minions as Larn collapses.
Somehow, without explanation, Larn is at Fire Keep talking to the king. Yeah, remember how Larn had to sneak aboard a ship. We just going to ignore that… and the way this king responds to his son’s death… are you kidding me. You sent him to die, and all you are going to do is sigh?
So a final assault on Ice Peak is decided upon and Darkwolf and Larn soar through the skies on dragon hawks. This next sequence is quite an enjoyable one and the sight of a swarm of dragon hawks is quite impressive. But incredibly quickly the dragon hawks begin to perish as they are killed by the sub-humans. However, Plot armor saves the day once again and Darkwolf and Larn survive the assault as Nekron sits in his throne room waiting.
His laugh then causes the ceiling to collapse in an attempt to kill our heroic duo. (say it with me, everyone, IS THIS ANOTHER ONE OF HIS POWERS?. Larns Dragon Hawk then unexplainably crashes… Like.. for absolutely no reason… and Darkwalf heads for the throne room. His Dragon Hawk is peppered by arrows but he is able to successfully launch himself into the throne room where he easily dispatches tens of minions. Nekron is then seen laughing atop his fortress as the grounds begin to tremble. Larn then finds Teegra just sitting on the floor before being attacked by Julianna. Teegra fights free and throws a knife into a minion saving larns life. Larn then pulls off some seriously sweet moves actually and kills two more sub-humans.
Teegra and Larn then embrace. The couple who have only ever said a few words to each other have finally been reunited.
The final confrontation then takes place, and it is between Dark Wolf and Nekron. It begins with Darkwolf yelling (NEKRON) completely giving away the element of surprise, and what ensues is an even more boring fit than before as Nekron continues to try to kill Darkwolf using his powers… Until for whatever reason (Maybe Darkwolf has powers), He is able to break through Nekrons magic and swings his ax into his ribs. Julianna sees this and lets out one of the least convincing screams you will ever hear, as Darkwolf delivers the final blow… And there you have it. The Least developed, however arguably coolest character kills the primary villain of the movie. It would be nice to know what his motivation was… But oh well. As Nekron dies, the fire king releases a flood of magma that sweeps through the glacier destroying it and everyone inside. Julianna just falls to her death in a rather nothing death, having accomplished literally nothing in the movie. Remember when we thought she might be important since she was the first character introduced in the film. And Larn and Teegra are able to escape using the Dragon Hawk that crashed for no reason, and now it can fly for no reason.
The glacier then falls apart and crumbles to nothing as we see Larn and Teegra lying motionless on the ground with no sign of their dragon hawk. The two then awaken to see Darkwolf sitting on his horse (No idea where he got it) as he bids them farewell. A subhuman then crawls out the water behind our prehistoric couple as Larn turns to pick up a rock. Teegra then stops Larn telling him that if they want to start over, there mustn’t be any killing… The two then begin walking away before sharing the world’s first caveman kiss (That’s just my personal headcanon), and the movie ends!
And that is FIRE AND ICE! In conclusion, what can I actually say about this movie? It is a typical fantasy adventure film with next to no character development and a repetitive cycle of story beats… I can only watch a princess be captured and a caveman runs away from danger so many times before it becomes stale. My biggest issue is the lack of explanation and thought put into the film. Especially near the end. This happens far too often, how did Larn get back to the fire kingdom, Where did the dragon hawk go, why did it crash, what are Nekrons powers… The list goes on. The film had a lot of potential and if they had simply fleshed out the characters and their motivations, it would have made for a much more exciting product.
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