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also known as Kanashimi no Belladonna

Belladonna of Sadness1973

  • 4.1
One of the great lost masterpieces of Japanese animation, never before officially released in the U.S., BELLADONNA OF SADNESS is a mad, swirling, psychedelic light-show of medieval tarot-card imagery with horned demons, haunted forests and La Belle Dame Sans Merci, equal parts J.R.R. Tolkien and gorgeous, explicit Gustav Klimt-influenced visuals. The last film in the Animerama trilogy produced by the godfather of Japanese anime and manga, Osamu Tezuka and directed by his long time collaborator Eiichi Yamamoto, BELLADONNA OF SADNESS unfolds as a series of spectacular still watercolor paintings that bleed and twist together.

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1 member likes this review

My mind had difficulty with this film. I never did figure it out. Like some forms of art, the objective is not to understand what it is "supposed to be", but simply to absorb what is given. I moved to this "absorption" approach about halfway through and became much more comfortable. Will you "like" it? Who knows but I am glad I watched. My appreciation of the artist and his work came through when I left my thinking and let my emotions respond to the art. I had no problem reacting to the emotions portrayed in his drawing for they are strong and telling. Let yourself go. It is a good trip.

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top reviewer

Member Reviews (5)

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top reviewer

My mind had difficulty with this film. I never did figure it out. Like some forms of art, the objective is not to understand what it is "supposed to be", but simply to absorb what is given. I moved to this "absorption" approach about halfway through and became much more comfortable. Will you "like" it? Who knows but I am glad I watched. My appreciation of the artist and his work came through when I left my thinking and let my emotions respond to the art. I had no problem reacting to the emotions portrayed in his drawing for they are strong and telling. Let yourself go. It is a good trip.

1 member likes this review

Personally, I couldn't finish the film because it was just not within my interest range. What initially drew me in was the art. It is so captivating and beautiful, like nothing I've ever seen before.. But the whole story was too much for me.

Touches the deepest archetypes of the human condition, renders them stunningly, and the result is something very moving and memorable. (And as a male, I relished the opportunity to gaze. Much of the power of the film came from that.)

Though it may not appear to be so at first, this is a deeply feminist film. A woman takes the male gaze and objectification thrust upon her and turns it into sheer feminine power and desire. She fights back any way at all, tapping into the anarchic transgression of the 60's and 70's. Here is all the beauty and ugliness of flower power, sexual liberation, and what they are up against. The soundtrack is also very grand and moving, at times sadly and sensually sighing, and at times evocative of a western's--fitting where there's a need for justice. The watercolors, Art Nouveau lines, and use of negative space are phenomenally liquid and everchanging. This film was at turns, and sometimes all at once, solemn, creepy, lewd, funny, transcendent, and devastating. Enjoyed this trip to the very end--it was very moving.

Graphically sexual and utterly dominated by the male gaze (a huge number of stills of Jeanne in a recumbant pose, eyes closed and mouth parted). Nevertheless, the artwork is transfixing.