English: Belladonna of Sadness
Synonyms: The Tragedy of Belladonna
Status: Finished Airing
Aired: Jun 30, 1973
Producers: Mushi Productions
Duration: 1 hr. 29 min.
Rating: R - 17+ (violence & profanity)L represents licensing company
Score: 7.271 (scored by 834 users)
1 indicates a weighted score
2 based on the top anime page.
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May 20, 2010
Full list of the review series can be found on this page, 3rd post from bottom:
ART SECTION: 10/10 [Mon Dieu! C’est magnifique!]
Ok, this may strike to you as crude if you don’t look at it for what it really is. The entire movie is made to look as a slide show half the time and as a trippy, psychedelic, a-thing-made-from-nightmares theater play the other half. So, if you have no prior experience with G.A.anime or depressing French movies, you will not really appreciate the magnificence of the whole deal. For you see, it is pure art. A thing you can easily notice in retro movies and series is that the animation feels sillier and harder to stand as years go by. Art doesn’t have this problem. It looks great no matter how old it is. Meaning, you shouldn’t think “Hey, it is old; recent series look better.” Why? Because… they don’t! I wish half of recent anime were half as artistic as this movie is.
Good animation is not just gorgeous-looking mecha or flashy explosions or even a hundred frames per second. In fact, all these play quite a minor part in the whole. Really good animation is about conveying feelings and messages through symbolisms and allusions. And boy, this movie is 100% that. Every single scene is a metaphor for personal drama, mentality, psychology, and the like. It may not make sense on a conscious level but if you are even slightly familiar with graphic arts, you will easily translate most of it in what it is all about. And boy, it was marvelous!
As I said, it doesn’t look like a Japanese production. The characters and the backgrounds look quite European. Plus, they have quite the French look in clothes and the setting is medieval France; so you get the picture… Anyway, although most of it is static images and the rest is some sort of Picasso / Dali combo, it does not give the feeling that it is bad or crude. Weird yes but definitely not bad. The camera zooms during most static pictures and the colors swap in order to depict the mood swings without having to animate anything. Plus, several details change as the story unfolds. The removal of the queen next of the duke from their picture in the second half is a good example of this.
A thing to be aware of is that almost everything in the movie looks either erotic or macabre; effectively making the movie an erotic psychological thriller. Freud and Yung would have a party over explaining all the stuff in it. Thus, you are advised NOT to watch it if you are not at least 15 years old. Lots of sex and death in it; even if it is not clearly shown half the time. If you have a woman putting a huge snake in her mouth and then shitting fish, well, it is not funny, nor fitting for little children.
So, I have no reason to give less to animation than the maximum. There is nothing I found wrong in it. Neither something I feel it could be shown better, if it ever gets a remake. Something that cannot be said about all the Gundam series and most anime in general that are basing their appeal on flashy robots and/or half naked chicks.
SOUND SECTION: 9/10 [Parle vu français?]
It could easily be dubbed in French… Anyway, voice acting is not amazing as the voice actors take it rather easy on their work, yet the result is quite good. The music themes are sooo 60’s. Think of the kind of music the hippies were listening to in Europe at that time and you know what to expect. Plus, it gets some pseudo-ecclesiastic tones at times to give the impression of the era it takes place in. Quite the funky beats there; I liked them despite not being old enough to grow up with them. In combination with the awesome animation, the sound turns to poetry. And just like the animation, I also found nothing bad about it. Ok, maybe if it was in stereo and if the voice acting was a bit more enthusiastic but that’s just peanuts. It is great to pay attention to as the dialogues are part of the story and the music is part of the atmosphere. That’s not true with many anime, which you can easily watch in mute; as they have nothing really interesting to listen to.
STORY SECTION: 7/10 [Viva la revolution!]
Although the story itself is not really complicating and the ending feels somewhat out of place, for a movie format, it feels like a lot of things happened in only 100 minutes. For you see, there is character development AND world shaking events AND a solid ending in it. So, as a movie it felt quite satisfactory.
The story is a weird alternative story of Jean D’Ark. Take out the war with England and insert a deal with the Devil to turn the world into a Hell through a Garden of Pleasures and you get the basics. I must make it clear that there is a lot of death and sex in it and it may disgust you if you don’t like such things. Also, the ending is somewhat WTF, as it feels like it shifted to an entire different theme altogether. How the hell did we jump a few centuries ahead to the French Revolution? That may leave you with a weird aftertaste. But it is original in a way, as it does not end up being just a simple, predictable story of vengeance and moral decay. I won’t tell you more, as it is a major twist you have to see for yourselves. All I can say is that most anime feel “normal” most of their duration and turn to some weird shit at the end; just to leave you with a last impression. This movie does the exact opposite!
Anyway, the story is quite good for a movie, despite feeling simple and out of place at the end.
CHARACTER SECTION: 7/10 [Belladonna … Bijin onna …]
The same things that I said about the story may apply to the cast as well. It is a character-driven story, you see. Although there are good people and bad people in it, none of them are clear-cut goodies and baddies. Plus, they are colorized in ways that easily make most anime and American movies to look like Kindergarten. The lead woman gets a hell of a character development and half a dozen others a rather decent one. It still feels a bit rushed as we are talking about a movie with restricted duration. Plus, some characters don’t exactly feel realistic in their reaction. The duke for example, acts like a generic idiot bad guy most of the time. And the ending makes you feel like something’s amiss because of the genre shift. But the cast is still quite interesting, as you really get to know them and sympathize with them thanks to the artistic animation / sound combo.
VALUE SECTION: 7/10 [Sacra bleu!]
Historical Value 1/3: Nah, too artistic to be noticed by masses.
Rewatchability 2/3: If you like art, sure; high chance.
Memorability 4/4: Definitely! It looks so special!
ENJOYMENT SECTION: 9/10 [Les Français se réjouissent!]
The only thing that I kind of didn’t enjoy was the conclusion. All the rest of the movie was pure poetry and something I hardly come by these days. Special, unique, remarkable, generally something you should watch and reconsider if your Naruto or Dragonball anime are as good as you thought they were… Ok, they’re not…
Tu n'es pas coupable! Très bien! Bravo ma cerise!
Revolutionary Girl Utena
And if you like French stuff:
The Rose of Versailles
Le Chevalier D’Eon read more
Feb 24, 2010
The art here is interestingly animated. The colors are always interesting to watch, and the animation mostly manages to be coherent despite the psychedelic nature. It is not always especially fluid, and I think that is what it has the hardest time balancing in a way that is totally watchable. I liked the art the most when the fluidity was best, but it is still nice to look at a lot of the time when it pauses, especially on any beautiful looks of Jeanne. I like the disparity between Jeanne's beauty and everybody else; it lends a real power to her character development.
Jeanne's character as a typically frightfully powerful woman is interestingly played out here - she has a downfall not once, but twice! Jeanne's inability to rely on her husband or anyone at all, despite helping them out, makes her a nice tragic character in these downfalls. The baron is all right for an evil role, especially with how he is drawn, but his wife seems to be an especially weak character, suffocating story and enjoyment any time she is present.
The story is weak, and not because it leaves you guessing, but rather because it just cannot be told enough with the focus on the art. Since the art does spend a lot of time in psychedelic mode, taking minutes to flesh out basic ideas, it cannot really play up aspects of the story that it could otherwise. This also means that you are left guessing about a lot of aspects of the story.
The sound is not amazing, but is pretty much always enjoyable, especially if you like typical hard rock and psychedelic rock sounds. This spends more time sounding like early Deep Purple, but it also manages to sound like early Pink Floyd too. At the end it even adopts a sound like Ecstasy of Gold, but in a more Japanese style. It never excels in any of these modes, but it is never bad in any of them either, and nearly always compliments the art and story well
Overall, this is a rather "indulgent" work to watch, rather than something whose story or action you can simply sit back and let overawe you. If you are bored of typical anime and manga, however, this might be a nice little indulgent break. read more
Feb 2, 2013