In 1983, Canadian animation studio, Nelvana, released the animated musical sci-fi-film, Rock and Rule, which is known by animation buffs but not as many as some would think. This film, set in the distant future after our nuclear war, tells tha tale of Mok, an aging and legendary rock and roll star who is trying to fulfill an ancient prophecy that will unlock a protal to another dimension and release a powerful demon upon Earth that will cement him as the ultimate rock-and-roll god and master of magic.
But, in order for that to happen, he must find the correct voice that will open the portal, as he searches the world in his airship in order to find the correct tone and the correct voice. Enter Angel (voiced by Susan Roman, and singing voice of Debbie Harry of Blondie fame), a keyboardist for a dive-bar rock-and-roll band fronted by her boyfriend, Omar (voiced by Greg Salata.) With friends Dizzy and Stretch, they soon have found favor with Mok,who wants to invite them to his mansion outside of town, where he kidnaps Angel and hypnotizes the others in order to carry out his master plan at a worldwide sold-out show in Nuke York.
Here is the original trailer.....
The fact remains, though, that this film took nearly thirteen years to produce! In the early seventies, animation and filming began, but the studio had ran into several setbacks, including the studio burning to the ground twice and losing their work in the blaze. But, they kept at it, and in 1981 or 1982, the film was finally released in America to a midnight showing in New York, meeting with 'less-than-stellar' reviews. On top of that, the film version that had been shown had been pieced together from what little they could save, and they had met with other complications along the way such as voice actors leaving or the producers not agreeing with material and the other usual problems.
But, even though the film was not a great success, there are still many gurus and buffs that have listed this film as a 'great achievement', as it was one of the first films that had ever been produced that had pushed the barriers of normal animation stories.
For instance, while sex, drugs, and violence were not uncommon in animated films, they were more often than not frowned upon by the viewing public. Let me just show you an example of what I mean below:
Now, while this was not the only issue that the film approached, it also delved deep within the mythos that surrounded rock and roll which had gone from the sixties forms of acoustic guitars, anti-war ballads, and free love. IOnstead, it delved more into the darker side of rock, including the pioneering days of heavy metal. Another example is below:
With all of time that had been poured into this project, it is not a wonder that it had fallen to the wayside as time passed.
Like any innovation in animation, it gets passed over due to its nature of being different. But, it falls into the same category of other filsm of this type, such as Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal 2000, American Pop, Wizards, and so forth.
Nelvana was the frist studio to take animation to a completely different level, taking stories and melding them with not only imaginative stories, but also a good shred of truth included with it. But, as they changed with the times, they left the innovation behind and went to more 'family friendly' venues, such as their pairing with LucasFilm for their Star Wars spinoffs, Droids and Ewoks.
Now, Nelvana has went into even more kiddie-freindly faire, releasing cartoons and franchises such as The Backyardigans, Beyblade, Medabots, and so forth.
To think that Rock and Rule was one of the first films that started it all. My, how times change.