The story is one of witchcraft imagined as a sexual force, but the movie never sinks to the pornographic. The story itself however pales in comparison to the visuals. Avant garde watercolour images with animation used sparingly, but to great effect during its most visceral scenes, perfectly complemented by a psych rock soundtrack. An assault on the senses that keeps your eyes glued even when you'd rather look away.
* Mostly for the artwork. On one hand the mesmerising visuals are of absolute artistic merit. The scrolling mural paintings worked really well to move the story, along with cool music . Animation in the age of sexual liberation. However I found parts too graphic and violent, and disliked how much Jeanne didn't have much agency without giving herself to the devil disguised as a penis.
I thought going back to the seventies would avoid the tentacle porn implication that Japan gets associated with in anime but there's a few scenes, so it's not quite far enough. But there are scenes which are gorgeous a mixture of paintbrush, watercolour and pencil art that takes a story that has elements of Marquis De Sade inspiration and psychedelic music interwoven within this tragic tale of animated erotica.
What an amazing film , remember seeing this at a friends house in a Vhs and i was the only one that i like it ( back at 1988 ) could not understand why my friends didn't like it ,i was trying for years to see it again , and when Cinelicious Pics release the restore version of the film i was amazed once more ,design , music , story all works perfectly in a movie that plays with your mind and how you see things around
3-4. Setting aside my issues with rape revenge stories, this is a visually astonishing piece that really knows how to command abstract fairy tale language. It really surprises me that there are people here who don't understand why the film ties itself to the French revolution in its ending. The point that women were at the front line is spelled plainly in hiragana. The revolution's context fits plainly with the film.
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.