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Belladonna of Sadness(哀しみのベラドンナ)

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭   Read critic reviews

Japan · 1973
1h 26m
Director Eiichi Yamamoto
Starring Aiko Nagayama, Tatsuya Nakadai, Takao Ito, Masaya Takahashi
Genre Animation, Drama, Fantasy

Set in a harsh feudal village, "Belladonna" follows Jeanne, a beautiful young maiden who, on her wedding night, is viciously raped by the local lord and his court. To take revenge, she makes a pact with the Devil, who transforms her into a black-robed vision of madness and desire. An absolutely stunning film far ahead of its time.

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That mashup — of feminine beauty and insanity-inducing toxicity —is a good cipher for everything about Belladonna of Sadness (“Kanashimi no Balladonna”).


The Film Stage by Amanda Waltz

For all its overindulgence in depravity, Belladonna stands as both an important forebear to a now-beloved genre and a confused, albeit earnest tribute to those who dare defy authority in order to elevate themselves.


Los Angeles Times by Charles Solomon

Belladonna of Sadness is an interesting curiosity from the early days of modern anime, but material that may have seemed daring and adult in the era of Disney's “Robin Hood” and “Snoopy, Come Home” looks exploitative and misogynistic 43 years later.


IndieWire by David Ehrlich

There's an undeniable genius at work here, strong enough to survive the psychedelic sleaze that's been baked into every frame.


The New York Times by Glenn Kenny

Belladonna of Sadness is compulsively watchable, even at its most disturbing: The imagery is frequently graphic, and still, after over 40 years, it has the power to shock.


The Hollywood Reporter by John DeFore

The artwork is achingly delicate, but there's nothing subtle about Belladonna of Sadness, a blast of psychedelic madness full of rape, tyranny and Satanism.


Village Voice by Simon Abrams

You can fully enjoy Belladonna of Sadness if you either overlook or participate in the objectification of a gorgeous victim.

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