Kanashimi no Belladonna
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The Japanese DVD cover for Belladonna, as released by Nippon Columbia
|Hepburn||Kanashimi no Beradonna|
|Directed by||Eiichi Yamamoto|
|Produced by||Tadami Watanabe|
|Written by||Yoshiyuki Fukuda
|Based on||Satanism and Witchcraft
by Jules Michelet
|Narrated by||Chinatsu Nakayama|
|Music by||Masahiko Satō|
|Edited by||Masashi Furukawa|
|Distributed by||Nippon Herald Eiga (Japan)|
Belladonna (哀しみのベラドンナ Kanashimi no Beradonna?, literally "Belladonna of Sadness"), also known as "The Tragedy of Belladonna", is a 1973 feature film produced by the Japanese animation studio Mushi Production and distributor Nippon Herald Films. Directed and co-written by Eiichi Yamamoto and inspired by Jules Michelet's non-fiction book Satanism and Witchcraft, it is the third and final film in the Animerama trilogy and the only one to be neither written nor directed by Osamu Tezuka (he left Mushi Production during the film's early stages to concentrate on his comics and his conceptual-stage contribution is uncredited). Belladonna is also of a more serious tone than the more comedic first two Animerama films. Its visuals consist mostly of still paintings panned across and are strongly influenced by western art, such as Aubrey Beardsley, Gustav Klimt and classic tarot illustrations. The film was a commercial failure and contributed to Mushi Pro becoming bankrupt by the end of the year. The film was entered into the 23rd Berlin International Film Festival.
It follows the story of Jeanne, a peasant woman who is raped which leads to her being accused of witchcraft, and is notable for its graphic and suggestively erotic, violent and psychedelic imagery. The film was released in Europe and Japan, but no official DVD with English subtitles exists. It has played in America, however.
Jeanne and Jean are happy newlyweds in a rural village. Their idyll is promptly shattered when Jeanne, on her wedding night, is raped in a ritual deflowering by the local baron and his lackeys. She returns to Jean terrified and in pain, and he calms her, saying, "Let us forget everything in the past". She begins to see visions of a phallic-headed spirit encouraging her to take revenge on the baron; meanwhile, the couple's fortunes rise even as famine strikes the village and the baron raises taxes to fund his war effort. Jean is made tax collector, and the baron cuts off his hand as punishment when he cannot extract enough money from the village. After another visit from the spirit, Jeanne takes out a large loan from an usurer and sets herself up in the same trade, eventually parlaying it into becoming the true power in the village.
Then the baron returns victorious from his war, and his wife, envious of the respect and admiration accorded Jeanne, calls her a witch and has her driven out. Jeanne first tries to return to the home she shares with Jean, but he refuses to open the door for her and she flees into the forest nearby where she finally makes a pact with the spirit, who reveals himself to be the devil. She is granted considerable magical powers, and uses them to lead a rebellion in the village. The narrative of Michelet's Sorceress and her resistance against feudalism and the Catholic Church is fudged into that of Joan of Arc (Jeanne d'Arc), whom Belladonna's Jeanne is revealed to be, and her execution by burning.
- Jeanne: Aiko Nagayama
- Jean: Katsutaka Ito
- Witch: Tatsuya Tashiro
- The Devil Tatsuya Nakadai
- Milord: Masaya Takahashi
- Milady: Shigaku Shimegi
- Catholic Priest: Masakane Yonekura
- Narrator: Chinatsu Nakayama
- JMDb, JP, 1973.
- Opening credits of the film itself.
- The film's title card bears, in addition to the Japanese title, the Latin alphabet title La Sorcière (that of the source book in its original language). Other printed media such as the original trailer, posters and video boxes use Belladonna as the film's Latin-character title; Mushi Production's Web site and some online reviews, as of July 2011, currently use Tragedy of Belladonna.
- Sharp, Jasper (July 3, 2006). "Round-Up #22: Anime special". Midnight Eye. Retrieved 2008-08-26.
- Wabi Sabi (2007). "Kanashimi no Belladonna directed by Yamamoto Eiichi". Iwa ni Hana. Retrieved 2008-08-26.[dead link]
- "Belladonna". Tezuka in English. Retrieved 2008-08-26.
- "Awards". IMDb. Retrieved 2010-06-29.
- "Jahresblatt", Berlinale (in German), DE, 1973.
- Belladonna page at Tezuka in English
- Pelleas.net's Belladonna review
- Japanese Belladonna trailer on YouTube
- "Kanashimi no Belladonna", BookWeb (in Japanese), JP: Kinokuniya.
- Kanashimi no Belladonna at the Internet Movie Database
- Kanashimi no Belladonna at AllMovie
- Kanashimi no Belladonna (film) at Anime News Network's encyclopedia