This violent psych-rock-soundtracked hyper-sexual Belladonna of Sadness is the most messed up animation you will ever see. It makes Ted look like the Teletubbies.
A newly released trailer reveals what the forthcoming never-before-seen in the US (officially), 4k-rendered English-subtitled, version of Belladonna of Sadness will look like. The "red band" status of the dusted-off 1973 film is so naughty the MPAA rating guys haven't ok'ed it for public viewing. Ooh.
The 89-minute movie follows a purple-haired witch, Jeanne (Aiko Nagayama) and her battle with none other than a talking penis, The Devil (Tatsuya Nakadai). She is cast out from her village, accused of being a witch, and flees into the forest. Jeanne makes a pact with the loquacious phallus, who grants her magical powers – which she uses to lead a rebellion in her village.
Belladonna of Sadness (originally Kanashimi no Beradonna) is a surrealist journey in spectacular watercolor animation that has been heralded as one of the great 'lost' masterpieces of anime. A pastiche of the story of Joan of Arc, it seethes with hot hallucinatory images that reflect the mind-bending experiences of LSD – it being the '70s after all.
The plot embraces the heady feminist thoughts of the post-sexual revolution period through the evocation and dissection of the femme fatale archetype in Jeanne. The ideas are just as relevant today.
When it was released in 1973, its commercial failure bankrupted the studio, Mushi Production. This studio contains the dudes generally held responsible for the giant alien eyes and tiny mouths of anime female figures.
Belladonna may have been too radical a move at the time for Mushi, but it is now considered as marking the dawn of the anime 'altered-state' (tripping) genre. This genre is characterized by boundary-breaking plot fraught with graphic sex and psychedelic excess.
It was directed by Eiichi Yamamoto with rainbow artwork by Kuni Fukai and a stirring Japanese psych-rock soundtrack by Masahiko Satoh. US company Cinelicious Pics are restoring the animation using the original 35mm film. Cinelicious President Paul Korver said:
It took months of negotiations to convince the Japanese rightsholders to entrust us with the original camera negative. People will be simply blown away by the wild, hallucinatory images and soundtrack.
If Led Zeppelin had a favorite film, this would be it. In other words, Stairway to Hell.
Check out the US dates and locations here.
Watch the trailer here:
What's your favorite anime?