(movie poster – fig1)
“Sita Sings the Blues” was animated by Nina Paley in 2008. What makes the film remarkable are the different styles of animation that tie in together so well and work in perfect sync. The way the stories are told is interestingly executed, linking a short part of the director’s real life and her misadventures with her ex-husband and the story of Ramayana. In his review Roger Ebert states that: “It tells of a brave, noble woman who was made to suffer because of the foibles of an impetuous husband and his mother. Paley depicts this story with exuberant drawings in bright colours.” (Ebert, 2009) The way the stories are told with their distinctive four styles makes it really easy to understand and follow and they are quite easy on the eye as well.
Possibly the only criticism about “Sita Sings the Blues” is the slightly unconventional choice of 1920s’ jazz music that appears regularly throughout the film. Every other stylistic choice made a lot of sense and even though the music lyrics reflected certain parts of the story the actual jazz vibe wasn’t tying it with the eastern themes and visuals. A. O. Scott says that: “Annette Hanshaw, whose voice, poised between heartbreak and soigné resignation, sets a mood of longing for this multi-layered tale of love gone wrong.” (Scott, 2009)
The major thing that drove the film forward was definitely the narrative. Technically there was a lot of reused animation that made everything look very much the same and was really breaking the emersion. The story though was lucid enough and told in a very engaging way making the experience enjoyable overall.
The controversy that surrounds the film is perhaps serving a more positive purpose. It is definitely worth watching a film that can cause such a strong reaction both in the East and the West. Personally I didn’t find anything that could be considered offensive, it was more to do with the fact that retelling old stories out loud can sometimes rob them from their magic. Myths and folklore tends to sound better when it’s on a page but the moment it is visualised in a modern perspective it can clearly point at the plot holes that sometimes appear.
In conclusion “Sita Sings the Blues” is wonderfully executed especially when we consider it was made by a single person and it definitely reflects a true labour of love from Nina Paley. (3,5 stars)
Upload.wikimedia.org, (2016). [online] Available at: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/f/fe/Sita_STB_Poster.jpg/220px-Sita_STB_Poster.jpg [Accessed 28 Jan. 2016].
Ebert, R. (2009). Sita Sings the Blues Movie Review (2009) | Roger Ebert. [online] Rogerebert.com. Available at: http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/sita-sings-the-blues-2009 [Accessed 28 Jan. 2016].
SCOTT, A. (2009). Nina Paley’s Epic Breakups: Good Women Done Wrong in India. [online] Nytimes.com. Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/25/movies/25sita.html?_r=0 [Accessed 28 Jan. 2016].