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934 Ratings

Belladonna of Sadness

哀しみのベラドンナ | Kanashimi no Beradona

Directed by Eiichi Yamamoto
Japan, 1973
Animation, Fantasy, Avant-Garde


An innocent young woman is violently raped by the local lord on her wedding night. To take revenge, she makes a pact with the Devil himself who appears as an erotic sprite and transforms her into a black-robed vision of madness and desire.

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Belladonna of Sadness Directed by Eiichi Yamamoto
The film is eye-popping and ear-catching. The score, by the jazz pianist Masahiko Sato, might be characterized as “acid twang” in its evocation of Pink Floyd and Ennio Morricone. The movie’s look is as flowery as its title. Still, the delicate lines and pastel splashes of color are frequently at odds with a sexual violence at once explicit and powerfully abstract.
October 21, 2016
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The film displays a dazzling plethora of styles, telling its story with images animate, still or some combination of the two… I was conscious of being impressed by the film’s myriad techniques, occasionally titillated by the dirty pictures, but never exactly moved by the relentless virtuosity – though I suspect it benefits to be stoned as a bat before popping in the Blu-ray, for Belladonna has all of the gonzo extravagancies that make for a cult rediscovery. (See: Hausu; Jodorwsky, Alejandro).
August 05, 2016
As was true with many instances of the sexual revolution on-screen in the U.S., these confrontations were clearly at the expense of women. Yet the visual experience of Belladonna of Sadness is truly unique, with watercolor textures and techniques that simply don’t appear in narrative animated films. Carefully constructed and a little sloppy, alluring and disturbing, this gem deserves a trigger warning, but also a chance.
May 12, 2016
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