Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Belladonna of Sadness

I found I had a really tough time deciding how to start this post. How does one even explain Belladonna of Sadness? Pardon my French, but it's fucking bizarre. Produced by Osamu Tezuka and directed by Eiichi Yamamoto in 1973, this Japanese animated gem is striking; equal parts erotic, beautiful, and disturbing. K
eep in mind this was made by the same director who did KIMBA THE WHITE LION. A Japanese children's show that Disney later used as the basis (or carbon copy) to the Lion King. Excuse me? It's totally baffling these two things came from the same director. Can we all pause and appreciate what a curveball that is?

Right so, let's talk about this the best we can since there's a lot going on and you just kind of gape at the screen for an hour and thirty three minutes. In summation, a young woman and her fiance are totally in love and on their wedding night she gets raped by the town lord. Lots of tears and trauma ensue (naturally), and she decides to make a pact with a rather phallic devil in order to take revenge. When I say "rather" I mean things are pretty obvious. "You're so small!" She exclaims as she holds him in her hands. A couple rubs later and whaddya know, he's grown. In fact, this whole movie is basically a psychedelic sexual romp. It's rather interesting and beautiful to watch, a mixture of watercolours and stills and very vivid imagery. 

A plethora of colours, oddly enough I left the movie thinking, "well, that was rather depressing." It's a story about a woman extensively repressed and exploited by a feudal society. Her name is Jeanne, and her fate is eerily similar to that of Joan of Arc's. Coincidence
? Hmm. The film also walks a very dangerous line between being over-the-top pornographic and beautifully animated. This is supposed to be uncomfortable. This is supposed make you feel uneasy. It's avant-garde and I like it.

Jeanne is also GORGEOUS. Oddly enough I don't think I've ever been so attracted to an animated being. A long and slender frame with big eyes and voluminous
 hair that I can only dream of having, Jeanne is perfection. Especially after she gets her revenge on the town lord and a little bit, ahem, riled up, does she become even more interesting. For whatever reason her hair changes colour in every scene too. Go figure. 

Also to note, THE MUSIC. A crazy psychedelic rock score produced by Masahiko Satoh, in combination with the practically seizure inducing scenes, is such an obvious '70s delight. As I'm typing this I'm coyly smiling too since everyone knows exactly what I'm talking about and it's actually pretty cool to watch. Even go see it just for that.

I was lucky enough to view this for the first time since it was released to North American audiences a few weeks ago. I can see how this may not sit well with a modern-day crowd as it's really weird in some of the scenes not to mention with flashing colours making it look like a massive acid trip. Besides all that though, it's a film that really speaks to the merging of Western and Eastern influences. A
s if one applied watercolours to the illustrative genius of Beardsley mixed with the producer being an anime legend, this movie is like nothing I've seen before. Tragically, shortly after the release of this movie, the production house that created it, Mushi, went bankrupt. It's nice to see it's finally getting it's spot in the in the limelight, even if it's at least from the die-hard movie buffs out there.

Are you going to like Belladonna of Sadness? I'm really not sure. Honestly, I don't even know if I liked it. I respect it for what it is, and I think it's a landmark of Japanese cinema. It's something that I definitely believe should be watched, if anything for the cultural significance it has. 



  1. Loved this review..
    I haven't heard of this movie, but definitely sounds interesting!

  2. Your review is amazing! And I was startled by the fact I bear the same name as the heroine! ;)
    Thanks for sharing Marta!

  3. Great review! Love this post!
    Love from http://www.trangscorner.com {a lifestyle, fashion, beauty, and food blog}

  4. I like! Thank you for sharing.

    ** Join Love, Beauty Bloggers on facebook. A place for beauty and fashion bloggers from all over the world to promote their latest posts!


  5. Sounds so interesting and artsy! Lovely review! Xx


  6. I'm not huge fan of Japanese's films, but this anime sounds really interesting!


  7. I never heard of this one, but after your review I'm determined to watch it. It seems visually stunning, I love watercolour illustrations so I'm sure this kind of animation will be interesting to see....even if the movie itself is a bit difficult to grasp and watch.


  8. These illustrations are so beautiful

  9. I haven't seen much in the way of Japanese cinema but this does sound very interesting! You have a really good way of describing art by the way :) X

    Viva Epernay | GlossyBox Giveaway! | Vote For Me - Beauty Blogging Awards

  10. This looks like such an amazing film. I need to watch these!


  11. Very cool review!

  12. really nice review!

    blog: www.fashi0n-m0de.blogspot.it
    youtube: youtube.com/channel/UCq_Aya-v4acfRK4qUYgi6vA

  13. Wow, I haven't heard of this movie. I need to check it out. Great review!


  14. So beautiful. Thank you for sharing and have an amazing new week.

    Style For Mankind

  15. Great post lovely! x


  16. nice review!!!!



  17. I never heard before of it! Thanks for the review!
    Many thanks for your kind comment on my blog. Do you want to follow each other?
    xx from Bavaria/Germany, Rena

  18. Great review!! xx


  19. Never heard of the film, but this artwork is incredible so I will definitely be watching it.

    Rae | Love from Berlin

  20. Great review! Actually I like your site because you're always inviting and showing us great films and new content I've never heard about it before! Love the artwork and the lines of each illustration!

    Have a great week!
    Fungi Express blog


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