There’s Nothing Like the Psychedelic, Surreal Fairy Tale ‘Belladonna of Sadness’

GameStop, Inc.

belladonna-of-sadness-00002

If I were compiling a list of movies that I’ve seen that are like Eiichi Yamamoto’s Belladonna of Sadness, it would be nothing more than a blank sheet of paper. This stunning work of artistry is as if someone tasked legendary Disney animators to craft the oddest fairy tale ever told and ensured that they’d follow through on the task by spiking their office coffee pot with copious amounts of LSD.

For years, Belladonna of Sadness was unavailable in any official capacity for viewers in the United States. That changed this very year when Cinelicious Pics teamed with Cinefamily for a stunning restoration of the film. After playing at art theaters across the country (which it is still playing a number of art houses around the nation), the gorgeous restoration of Belladonna of Sadness is now available on Blu-ray. This 4K restoration also boast the film’s complete vision, restoring some of the more risqué scenes that had been excised by censors over 40 years ago. The final result is visually vibrant Blu-ray disc of a forgotten masterpiece, complete with new interviews with the director Yamamoto, the film’s art director Kuni Fukai, and composer Masahiko Satoh.

A 16-page booklet, original trailers, and the new exclusive interviews are merely window dressing. The real jewel is the movie itself, an eye-popping work of animation featuring images of the surreal and psychedelic. And yet for all the beauty that jumps off the screen, there’s a certain ugliness to some of the content within Belladonna of Sadness, a balancing act of vibrant sexuality and the lingering scars of sexual violence. No matter where the story of Belladonna of Sadness leads, the eyes are met with some of the most amazing visuals ever committed to celluloid, or in this matter Blu-ray.

Made in 1973, Belladonna of Sadness has something that rarely pops up in the modern era where all visual trickery can just be explained away by computer technology. Watching this lush visual masterwork, there were moments that I asked myself, “How did they do that?”

BELLADONNA OF SADNESS – OFFICIAL TRAILER – CINEFAMILY from Cinefamily on Vimeo.

The story of the film is based upon the novel La Sorcière by Jules Michelet. It’s a fairy tale of sorts, albeit one that is remarkably dark and twisted. Jean and Jeanne are in the midst of a love for the ages, noble and pure. However, the evil lord of the land won’t bless their union unless Jean pays the proscribed tax set forth by the lord. Unable to pay, the lord takes a horrific form of taxation all his own by raping the helpless Jeanne. This is all visualized in startling artistry, the pure and beautiful Jeanne ripped apart at the legs as the black backdrop of her body is consumed by the red that pours from her wounds. Few films could handle such an ugly matter with such grace, but Yamamoto is able to pull it off without ever undercutting the inherent ghastliness of the wretched crime being committed.

As Belladonna of Sadness continues, Jeanne is subject to more and more moments of pain and degradation before reaching a point where she embraces her sexuality and allure only to be painted as a witch and a heretic by her neighbors. It’s a never-ending cycle of pain that Jeanne is a part of, and it eventually leads to her lowest point – being courted by Satan to be his wife. However, she doesn’t become a ghastly witch and shed her physical beauty, instead she retains her good looks as a means to draw more and more souls to the pits of damnation. Jeanne’s power reaches the point where the lord, the very man that violated her oh so long ago, is asking her for the secrets of her powers, and even offers parts of his kingdom to her. Her reply is that she wants the entire world. All of the horrific games played by the men in the world have created a ravishing monster with an appetite for vengeance.

Yet for all the sexual content on display in Belladonna of Sadness, none of it comes across as exploitative or simple pornography. This isn’t an animated movie where the film’s heroine is consistently raped by monsters with penis tentacles or anything like that. Here is a movie that travails in some really murky waters with artistic aplomb, a rare feat for a film of any era from any nation by a filmmaker of any gender.

Its grace in handling very questionable material elevates Belladonna of Sadness, but it is really the astounding visual beauty that makes Belladonna of Sadness a must-see for cinephiles everywhere. Even its moment when the material takes a turn for the ugly, the film itself is always a marvel to look at, bordering between the psychedelic and the surreal. Watercolors jump off the screen with its vibrant animation style and swirl in a cascade of colors that can slowly shift from sheer beauty to absolute horror. No matter what events are unfolding in the story before you, the images alone of Belladonna of Sadness necessitate your attention.

As much as art is of its time and place, sometimes it takes a while for a piece of art to receive the attention it deserves. It only took 43 years for Belladonna of Sadness to take its rightful hold in America, but now it’s been given the loving restoration it deserves and is preserved for future generations wanting to dive into one of the most visually astounding movies in history, a work artistry that stands with no peers. It’s more than worth it to dive into Eiichi Yamamoto’s psychedelic fairy tale of twisted sexuality. There’s only one risk: You may never see the world the same again.

Belladonna of Sadness is now available on Blu-ray and is still playing in select theaters. For more information go to Cinelicious Pics’ website here.

Belladonna of Sadness
  • Overall Score
5

Summary

Unlike anything else I’ve ever seen, Belladonna of Sadness features eye-popping visuals of the surreal and psychedelic to compliment a twisted fairy tale of witches and devils.

Anytime Costumes

Leave a Reply

FanboyNation
Animation/Anime Interviews Animation/Anime News Animation/Anime Reviews Film/TV Interviews Film/TV News Film/TV Review
Luke Dimyan Talks About Portraying Judas Iscariot in, ‘The Chosen’ – Interview

Luke Dimyan Talks About Portraying Judas Iscariot in, ‘The Chosen‘, with...

Brett Harvey Talks ‘Breaking Olympia: The Phil Heath Story’

International Award Winning Director and Writer, Brett Harvey takes us  into...

‘Wednesday’ Comes to Blu-ray on Tuesday from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment

‘Wednesday‘ Comes to Blu-ray on Tuesday, March 26, 2024, from Warner...

Event News Event Reviews
It’s Showtime! ‘Beetlejuice’ is a Hit at Segerstrom Center of the Arts – Review

It’s Showtime! ‘Beetlejuice‘ is a Hit at Segerstrom Center of the...

‘MJ the Musical’ Chronicles the Life of the ‘King of Pop’ Running at Segerstrom – Review

‘MJ the Musical‘ is the Ultimate Stage Adaptation, Chronicling the life...

Aiden Sinclair and Michael Rangel Talks ’57 Ghosts’ Aboard the Queen Mary Séance

Aiden Sinclair and Apparitionist, Michael Rangel Discuss their new Theatrical Séance...

Automotives Football MMA, Kick Boxing & Boxing Professional Wrestling
Olympic Runner Colleen Quigley ‘On The Road to Paris’

Team USA Olympic Runner, Colleen Quigley is On The Road to...

Paralympian Swimmer Ahalya Lettenberger On The Road to Paris

Team USA Paralympian Swimmer, Ahalya Lettenberger is On The Road to...

Ultimate Women of Wrestling Comes to the Globe Theatre – Interview

Ultimate Women of Wrestling Comes to the Globe Theatre on Sunday,...

Adult Continuity Comics on the Can Cultural Junk Drawer Future Comic Rock Stars Is That Racist? Revisiting the Reviled THAT'S NOT ROTTEN! The B-Reel The Cantina Scene This Week in Crowdfunding What the HELL Did I just...?
Fantoy Comics Presents: Harry Potter and the Pahrump Apocalypse, battle at the Infernal gate pt 2

Oh Bruh, you did NOT just quote "Predator"!

Fantoy Comics Presents: Harry Potter and the Pahrump Apocalypse – Battle at the Infernal Gate pt 1

NO NATURAL PREDATORS!

Fantoy Comics Presents: Harry Potter and the Pahrump Apocalypse – SID SPEAKS!

"We Demons! Let's go CRUNK on this punk-ass world!"

Music Interviews Music News Music Reviews
Joe Kwaczala Talks About His new Comedy Album ‘Funny Songs & Sketches’ – Interview

Joe Kwaczala Talks About His new Comedy Album ‘Funny Songs &...

Songwriter and Poet, Tamara Mechael Talks About Her Career in the Arts

First Generation Assyrian-Chaldean, Songwriter and Poet, Tamara Mechael Talks About Her...

Louden Swain Headlining Los Angeles Show at The Echo

Press Release – Louden Swain are headlining Los Angeles show at...

Enabled Gaming Gaming News Gaming Reviews
Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League
Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League Gameplay Trailer

The first Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League gameplay trailer was revealed during...

Wonder Woman Game
Wonder Woman Game Announced By DC and WB Games

Wonder Woman game will feature the iconic hero in a 3rd...

MultiVersus
MultiVersus brings Batman, Arya Stark, Bugs Bunny, and More

MultiVersus is bringing Shaggy, Harley Quinn, Jake, Batman, Arya Stark, Bugs Bunny,...

Comic Creator Interviews Comic/Graphic Novel News Comic/Graphic Novel Reviews Manga News Manga Reviews Novel/Novella Author Interviews Novel/Novella News Novel/Novella Reviews
Gary Morgenstein Talks ‘A Dugout to Peace’ the Final Installment of his Trilogy

Gary Morgenstein Talks About ‘A Dugout to Peace‘ the final installment...

Chris Clews Is ‘Raised on the 80s’ and Shares Those Life Lessons

Chris Clews was ‘Raised on the 80s‘ and Shares Those Life...

Roye Okupe Brings Authentic African Representation to HBO Max and Cartoon Network

Nigerian-American, Roye Okupe brings authentic African representation to HBO Max and...

Apparel/Personal Maintenance News Apparel/Personal Maintenance Reviews Entertainment Product News Entertainment Product Reviews Food/Beverage Reviews Hardware News Hardware Reviews Mystery Box News Mystery Box Reviews
Harry Potter: Magic Caster Wand Demo

The new ‘Harry Potter: Magic Caster Wand‘ is ready to ship...

Chef Jen Peters and Matthew Clayton Bring us the ‘Good Flour’

Canadian Super Chef Jen Peters and Matthew Clayton Bring us the...

Pop Insider 2021 Holiday Gift Guide
Pop Insider 2021 Holiday Gift Guide

The Pop Insider 2021 Holiday Gift Guide is now available to help...

Gaming Uncensored Toon-In-Talk
Episode 38: Hamid Rahmanian

Join Whitney Grace as she speaks with artist Hamid Rahmanian, who...

No Preview
Toon-In Talk Episode 37: Niki Smith

Whitney Grace interviews graphic novel writer and artist Niki Smith about...

Toon-In Talk Episode 36: Rob Paulsen

Rob Paulsen takes some time from his busy voice acting schedule...