This week’s Film Club choice, is the staggeringly brilliant ‘Sita Sings The Blues’ created by Nina Paley, who wrote and animated the entire thing on her own using Flash!
It follows the ancient story of The Ramayana, in which Prince Rama and his wife, Sita are exiled from court, and forced to live in the forest, where Rama becomes a great hunter. Soon though, Sita, the most beautiful woman in the world, is noticed by the demon king Ravana, who steals her away to his palace. Aided by the monkey prince Hanuman, Rama travels with his monkey army to take her back…
Set alongside this story is the tale of Nina Paley herself, who lives happily in a San Francisco apartment with her husband and cat. He is called to India as part of his work and travels there alone. However, when his contract is extended, she joins him there, only to find that his attitude towards her has changed.
The whole thing is set to the songs of real-life 1920’s jazz singer Annette Henshaw, and is not only one of the most beautiful films of recent years, but also one of the funniest and most inventive. The winner of more awards than I can list here, Sita Sings The Blues was actually completed only last year, and was scheduled for a full release. However, the estate of Annette Henshaw objected to the songs being used, even though they are in the public domain, and enforced a ruling which meant Nina Paley could only release five thousand copies of the movie (please see comments for clarification of this misconception – Adam)
Undeterred, however, Paley chose to relinquish all monetary gain from the film, and has released it into the public domain. The most amazing thing about this turn of events, is that she has released all versions, including an absolutely stunning High Definition master. You can choose from streaming, Xvid, or H.264 versions in 480p, 720p or 1080p. Just follow the links to your preferred format in the page found here.
Please, please don’t let yourself be put off by the subject matter if you don’t find it appealing. I promise I had some reservations too until I watched it. The humour running throughout the movie is fantastic, mostly coming from the narrators. The music too, may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but you’ll be surprised at how perfectly it fits into this story. Also, I defy you to be not impressed by the animation when you bear in mind it was done single-handedly.
It does have it’s faults. The opening sequence is a teensy bit overlong, and there is a completely unnecessary intermission, but these are very minor faults, wallpapered over with a sea of sheer delights.
And what attractive wallpaper it is.
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