Kanashimi no Belladonna
(literally Belladonna of Sadness
, also known as The Tragedy of Belladonna
) is an avant-garde anime film made in 1973 and Inspired By
Jules Michelet's non-fiction book Satanism and Witchcraft
(or La Sorciere
). The film was directed by Osamu Tezuka
's disciple Eiichi Yamamoto and produced by Tezuka's studio Mushi Productions
The story follows the peasant woman Jeanne, who has just been Happily Married
to Jean when the village nobility
demands an absurdly high marriage tax. The couple can't pay, so the baron sees fit to have his way with the bride.
When she returns home, Jeanne is seduced by a demon and finds herself gradually turning to witchcraft to find empowerment and freedom. At first, she and her husband are prosperous, but as famine, war, and the bubonic plague strike the rest of the village, suspicion grows and Jeanne is eventually cast out of the village. She wins the villagers over when she offers a miracle cure for the plague, but then the nobility catches wind of her power...
Although the film was initially a commercial failure, it has gained some recognition in anime circles for its experimental animation, which is full of beautifully painted still images, Gustav Klimt
and Art Nouveau inspired imagery, and heavily stylized depictions of sex. The film also inspired Kunihiko Ikuhara
to work in anime, and its visual and thematic influences can be seen in Revolutionary Girl Utena
This film provides examples of:
- Aristocrats Are Evil: The baron and baroness.
- Clothing Damage: When Jeanne flees from the village, her cloak and tunic are gradually ripped apart until she reaches the wildnerness completely nude.
- Crucified Hero Shot: Jeanne gets executed on a burning cross-shaped stake.
- Does This Remind You Ofanything: All over the film, but most strikingly the devil, who is a literal dickhead.
- Deadly Decadent Court
- Deal with the Devil
- Deconstruction: It deconstructs some then-young Magical Girl tropes. She only agrees to the magical girl contract to disturb the social order that has made her suffer to the point that ever her husband rejects her.
- Deranged Animation: The sex scenes, especially Jeanne's rape note , are packed with surreal and often disturbing imagery.
- The "transformation scene" is particularly surreal and even visually quotes Yellow Submarine.
- Dies Wide Shut: Jean, after being impaled with many spears
- Downer Ending
- Happily Married: All of five minutes in the film before things go downhill.
- Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Jean
- Magical Girl: Jeanne even qualifies as a Dark Magical Girl.
- Mind Rape: Jeanne's encounter with the fully-grown demon in the wilderness might qualify.
- Mind Screw
- No Export for You: There were DVD releases in Japan and Europe, with no official release with English subtitles.
- Rape as Drama: In a very symbolic but very graphic scene.
- The Seventies: Jeanne and Jean's full hair, the trippy images derived from Art Nouveau, and the quirky folk-rock soundtrack make it pretty obvious that this was made in the early '70s.
- Visual Innuendo: Despite the numerous explicit sex scenes and a distinct aversion of Barbie Doll Anatomy, the animation uses free forms and contours to convey the eroticism of these scenes.