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Belladonna of Sadness (1973)

Kanashimi no beradonna (original title)
Unrated | | Animation, Drama, Fantasy | 12 July 2016 (USA)
1:32 | Trailer
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.


Eiichi Yamamoto
1 nomination. See more awards »





Credited cast:
Tatsuya Nakadai ... Devil
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Katsuyuki Itô Katsuyuki Itô ... Jean (as Katsutaka Ito)
Aiko Nagayama Aiko Nagayama ... Jeanne / Belladonna
Shigako Shimegi Shigako Shimegi ... The Lord's Mistress
Masaya Takahashi Masaya Takahashi ... The Lord
Natsuka Yashiro Natsuka Yashiro ... The Witch
Masakane Yonekura ... The Priest


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 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 Nick Riganas

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Did You Know?


With most modern anime it is all the credits are run at the beginning as was normal in almost all the movies produced by Japanese production houses. See more »


There is no significant link between medieval witchcraft and French Republicanism. Witchcraft normally had male leaders. Republicanism was based on Enlightenment Rationalism and scorned anything magic. See more »


Jeanne: Your Ladyship, have pity!
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Crazy Credits

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 »

Alternate Versions

"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 »


Belladonna of Sadness
Music by Asei Kobayashi; Arrangement by Makoto Kawaguchi
Lyrics by Yû Aku
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User Reviews

Visually and aurally incredible piece of cinematic art
26 June 2016 | by Red-BarracudaSee all my reviews

Wow. Sometimes something comes along that really genuinely blows me away and the viewing of this movie is one such very rare occasion. It's a film that was released in 1973 in an era when the adult cartoon was a new concept, typified by the likes of Fritz the Cat (1972), but Belladonna of Sadness by contrast attracted mainly negative criticism and it then seemed to more or less fall off the radar for many, many years. Having just seen it I can only say that this is a criminal state of affairs and that it is pretty seriously unfortunate, to say the least, that something so overwhelmingly artistically beautiful was disregarded and cast aside. The amount of artistic imagination and creativity on display here is pretty monumental.

Its regarded as a very early example of Japanese anime but it's like no other anime I have ever seen. While it definitely does have some material that would go on to be associated with the manga branch of Japanese anime, it is executed in a somewhat experimental manner. This is quite honestly more of an art film than an actual story. Many folks seem to have taken all manner of things away from this one in terms of its content, such as a feminist message and such. And while I agree that this is there, the sheer beauty of the artistry is so overwhelming that the contents of the story were completely overshadowed by the visceral sensory experience of watching this one. Despite its Japanese origins this one is set in the Middle Ages in Europe and it begins with a wedding of a young couple. The groom cannot pay the marriage tax so the baron exercises his 'rights' and rapes the bride. This trauma deeply affects the young couple and the woman turns to witchcraft.

Some may be taken aback by certain aspects of this one. Firstly, despite being an animated work, much of the story is told by still paintings and drawings. There are many elaborately detailed tableaux which the camera pans across and in so doing expands upon the narrative. There are many still pieces of art of varying styles, such as landscape watercolours, comic-book style figures and surrealism. These visual ideas are interwoven with early 70's styles such as psychedelia and transgressive underground comics. There are animated sections too, which make even more impact because they only appear every so often. There seems to be a general split where the narrative is depicted using stills and the inner working of the protagonists mind are animated. Consequently, this leads to the extended animated sequences being more dreamlike and surreal in nature. Accentuating all of this is an excellent soundtrack which works fantastically well with the imagery on screen. It's quite an eclectic score which features what could best be described as Japanese folk-pop and some out-and-out prog-rock.

As I said before, this isn't a film for everybody. Aside from its experimental approach, some may find the sexual content difficult. There are many examples of sexual imagery, although I wouldn't say it's exactly in erotic territory on account of its highly stylised presentation but also due to the disturbing nature of much of it. But despite the dark undercurrents to the material this is a film of enormous visual and aural beauty. In my personal opinion this has to go down as a stonewall classic and a great example of what the animated movie format is capable of.

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Release Date:

12 July 2016 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Belladonna of Sadness See more »


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Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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