An afterthought of a coda attempts to link the film to the French Revolution in what feels like an arbitrary stab at social relevance, when the real reason to watch this anime is the sheer phantasmagoric spectacle. "Belladonna of Sadness" is a true cornucopia of phallic imagery, Satanic possession, and European fantasy archetypes filtered through a distinctly Japanese sensibility - a feast for the eyes and ears.
Different kind of Japanese animation. One that is haunting, erotic, unusual, sometimes-beautiful-also-sometimes-ugly, violent, classic splendid animation, and truly rare (plus not to mention a groovy '70s psychedelic musicial score). A tale of sex and the occult like no other, sure to blow your mind away by its imagery. Recommended for animated arthouse fans.
One of the greatest animations ever made, a surreal psychosexual epic centered around the narrative of a woman trapped in an brutally oppressive society finally finding liberation and sexual empowerment by embracing the supposed 'evils' of nature and paganism. 70s excess at its finest, striking images of shape-shifting orgies and vaginal violation set against political commentary praising revolution and rebellion.
I don't understand how people feel comfortable calling this a "masterpiece" considering how easily the film disregards the female body. A majority of the plot simply moves from one rape scene to the next. There's some babbling about the Bastille and revolution in the 2nd half, but what will people really remember?...it's the psychedelic animation and the constant rape—that's troubling to me.
In expressing the full emotional gamut of the unity of the sexual with the spiritual, and the name even hints at it, Belladonna of Sadness unites beauty with the profane - the content still finds fresh psychological buttons to push. So the animation itself goes beyond simple elegance - it's palpable, immediate, and often the correct definition of scandalous - which in my opinion, is in its favor.