Monday, March 2, 2009

Sita Sings the Blues - Gorgeous Combo of Animation & Music

Wow...after having watched this film last night, I am still stumped at how to best describe it. It is funny, it is sad, it is dramatic, it is...nothing short of beautiful.

Sita Sings The Blues is, at it's heart, a simplified adaption of part of the ancient Hindu allegory Ramayana. Interspersed throughout the film are scenes from the artist Nina Paley's own life and experiences, that parallel the story of Ramayana. On top of these are added two more layers. The first is the oft irreverent narration breaks that provide comedy and contrast between the two paralleling storylines (these moments have an almost Mystery Science Theater 3000 quality to them). The second is the musical numbers which are animated in sync with the luxurious voice of 1920's jazz artist Annette Hanshaw to emphasize Sita's (and Nina's) plight.  As for the award winning animation itself, there are four unique animation style changes throughout the movie!

Yet there is another separate, but equally interesting, story revolving Nina's struggle to get the film made and the permissions to release it. You see, Sita Sings The Blues is available to watch in it's entirety online, but cannot be shown commercially in theaters. In fact, due to our country's ridiculous copyright laws, Paley is restricted to selling only a limited run of 5000 DVD's. After that she can only release it as a free download (available March 7th, 2009) under a Creative Commons license. The copyright issues as well as radical fundamentalist threats on her life, are addressed and discussed in an interview with Paley, about the challenges of getting the movie made. I highly recommend this interview, as she touches on a lot of issues that commercial artists tend to avoid.

The following link will take you to the Sita Sings The Blues official website.

If you are interested in obtaining the music by Todd Michaelsen, you can purchase songs direct from the musician's page.

Below is a trailer for the movie, one of the musical scenes from the film and a compilation reel for music by Michaelsen. Enjoy.

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