An evil feudal lord rapes a village girl on her wedding night and proceeds to ruin her and her husband's lives. After she's eventually banished from her village, the girl makes a pact with the devil to gain magical ability and take revenge.
Blessed--and at the same time cursed--with the precious but fatal gift of beauty, the young peasant, Jeanne, falls in love with the beautiful villager, Jean, in late-1800s France. However, as the village's foul feudal lord exercises the "Droit du Seigneur" or the "Right of the First Night" on the couple's wedding night, a desperate plunge to a world of disturbing hallucinations will eventually lead Jeanne to a damned Faustian bargain with the Prince of Darkness. Thirsting for power and a sweet retribution, Jeanne will gradually transform into an omnipotent and destructive vessel of seduction, as her newly-acquired powers go hand in hand with the blackest of witchcraft. Is there a limit to Jeanne's hatred?Written by
There are no ending credits or a 'THE END' title; all the credits are at the beginning. The opening theme is reprized over a blank screen after the final scene. The 2015 restoration adds a copyright byline and credits for the restoration. See more »
"According to the DVD pamphlet, there has been at least five versions of Belladonna of Sadness.
The first was a draft version hastily filled with temporary placeholder shots in order to meet a deadline. It has never been shown in public. The second version included [live-action footage] by Daido Moriyama...showing sex and nudity. Apparently Moriyama took...footage of men and women engaging in the sex act in parks and red-light districts. [This] footage [was] meant to be shown during two interval breaks (in the first half after Jeanne's contract with the devil and in the second half after the coming of spring). Although these had been shown in some early theatre viewings, they were ultimately omitted in the later versions in order to maintain the film's unity of artistic style. The second version also ended with the devil laughing in the crowd after Jeanne's execution. This ending was poorly received at the Berlin Film Festival, and was omitted altogether in some later versions. The third version was one edited for theatre screenings. This version omitted Moriyama's live-action footage and ended with the devil's laughter. The fourth version was one edited for the revival of this film in 1979. Because the creators were concerned about female college students among their audiences, they omitted the aggressively sexual scenes. At the same time, they also added the scene towards the end where the "face of Jeanne" is reincarnated in a crowd of female by-standers who saw her execution, and the final scene where the Old Regime is toppled by revolutionaries during the French Revolution. The fifth version is the LD disc video version. They restored the sexual scenes omitted in the fourth version. See more »
Impressive work of art. The back cover of the Blu-ray states that this is the last film in the Animerama trilogy. In doing a little research I found that Animerama is defined as "...a series of thematically- related adult anime feature films originally conceived and initiated by Osamu Tezuka..." This third film was co-written and directed by Eiichi Yamamoto inspired by the book SATANISM AND WITCHCRAFT by Jules Michelet.
The animation is fairly basic. It's largely comprised of long paintings, done in watercolor. The effect reminds me of certain Japanese scrolls where, as they unwind, the story is told. In the case of this film, however, the camera slowly moves right to left along the painting, occasionally zooming in. There is also other limited use of cell animation where the camera is shooting each of the different cells and they are presented in sequence on film to show progression/movement...at a lower slower frame rate than, say, the average Disney cell animation. As mentioned, it's all fairly basic and yet still works well in combination with the other elements. Which are:
Narration, requiring reading of subtitles for those not fluent in Japanese.
And a great sound/music score that I wouldn't mind having on CD. It ranges from trippy to hauntingly beautiful with a few actual songs that are quite nice. And other chaotic or horrific or beautiful sounds and music. All complementing the imagery in a way that is very important to this type of animated film.
Who would I recommend this to. It deals with some pretty strong subject matter, not the least of which is rape. Horror fans may appreciate some of the darker aspects of the film. But beyond that: Do you appreciate art? Do you appreciate Japanese culture/history? Are you open to alternative forms of storytelling? If you answer yes to all then you will probably like this film. I thought it was one of those rare treats that I likely will revisit. I'm also now curious about the other two films in the Animerama trilogy.
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