Tragedy, comedy and musical collide in this gloriously animated film from Nina Paley. Sita is a goddess separated from her beloved Lord and husband Rama. Nina is an animator whose husband moves to India, then dumps her by email. Three bickering shadow puppets with Indian accents act as comic narrators as these old and new stories are interwoven in a post-modern retelling of the ancient Indian epic, Ramayana, animated in a dazzling mix of traditional and collage animation style, and backed by a soundtrack from legendary 1920’s jazz singer Annette Hanshaw.
Sita Sings the Blues follows in the line of Triplets of Belleville, Spirited Away, Waltz With Bashir, and Persepolis to exemplify animation as a “serious” art form — which does not stop it from being laugh-out-loud funny. A panoply of monsters, gods, goddesses, warriors, sages, pyromaniac monkeys and winged eyeballs fills the screen with vivid color from start to finish, while the narrators’ improvisational debates over the Rama legend join the filmmaker’s own tragicomic story and Hanshaw’s done-me-wrong tunes to layer a modern feminist commentary on the ancient Indian legend. The result is a subtly subversive, visually stunning, highly original work of art that is as enjoyable for children as it is for adults!
(Note: Director Nina Paley has made the film available for free online under the Creative Commons license. You can stream and download the film for free at www.sitasingstheblues.com. Now there are no excuses! GKIDS remains one of the only providers of 35mm prints for theatrical and festival exhibition.)