10 user 63 critic

Kanashimi no Beradonna (1973)

Unrated | | Animation, Fantasy | 12 July 2016 (USA)
After being banished from her village, a peasant woman makes a pact with the devil to gain magical ability.


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1 nomination. See more awards »
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Credited cast:
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Katsuyuki Itô ...
Jean (as Katsutaka Ito)
Aiko Nagayama ...
Jeanne / Belladonna
Shigako Shimegi ...
The Lord's Mistress
Masaya Takahashi ...
Natsuka Yashiro ...
The Witch
Masakane Yonekura ...
The Priest


After being banished from her village, a peasant woman makes a pact with the devil to gain magical ability.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Animation | Fantasy


Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

12 July 2016 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Belladonna  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


The last film produced by Mushi Production. They went bankrupt shortly after its release. See more »

Crazy Credits

There are no ending credits or a 'THE END' title; all the credits are at the beginning. The opening theme is reprized over a blank screen after the final scene. The 2015 restoration adds a copyright byline and credits for the restoration. See more »


Inside the Pale Mirror
Music by Masahiko Satô
Lyrics by Chinatsu Nakayama
Performed by Masahiko Satô
See more »

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User Reviews

Visually and aurally incredible piece of cinematic art
26 June 2016 | by (Edinburgh, Scotland, UK) – See all my reviews

Wow. Sometimes something comes along that really genuinely blows me away and the viewing of this movie is one such very rare occasion. It's a film that was released in 1973 in an era when the adult cartoon was a new concept, typified by the likes of Fritz the Cat (1972), but Belladonna of Sadness by contrast attracted mainly negative criticism and it then seemed to more or less fall off the radar for many, many years. Having just seen it I can only say that this is a criminal state of affairs and that it is pretty seriously unfortunate, to say the least, that something so overwhelmingly artistically beautiful was disregarded and cast aside. The amount of artistic imagination and creativity on display here is pretty monumental.

Its regarded as a very early example of Japanese anime but it's like no other anime I have ever seen. While it definitely does have some material that would go on to be associated with the manga branch of Japanese anime, it is executed in a somewhat experimental manner. This is quite honestly more of an art film than an actual story. Many folks seem to have taken all manner of things away from this one in terms of its content, such as a feminist message and such. And while I agree that this is there, the sheer beauty of the artistry is so overwhelming that the contents of the story were completely overshadowed by the visceral sensory experience of watching this one. Despite its Japanese origins this one is set in the Middle Ages in Europe and it begins with a wedding of a young couple. The groom cannot pay the marriage tax so the baron exercises his 'rights' and rapes the bride. This trauma deeply affects the young couple and the woman turns to witchcraft.

Some may be taken aback by certain aspects of this one. Firstly, despite being an animated work, much of the story is told by still paintings and drawings. There are many elaborately detailed tableaux which the camera pans across and in so doing expands upon the narrative. There are many still pieces of art of varying styles, such as landscape watercolours, comic-book style figures and surrealism. These visual ideas are interwoven with early 70's styles such as psychedelia and transgressive underground comics. There are animated sections too, which make even more impact because they only appear every so often. There seems to be a general split where the narrative is depicted using stills and the inner working of the protagonists mind are animated. Consequently, this leads to the extended animated sequences being more dreamlike and surreal in nature. Accentuating all of this is an excellent soundtrack which works fantastically well with the imagery on screen. It's quite an eclectic score which features what could best be described as Japanese folk-pop and some out-and-out prog-rock.

As I said before, this isn't a film for everybody. Aside from its experimental approach, some may find the sexual content difficult. There are many examples of sexual imagery, although I wouldn't say it's exactly in erotic territory on account of its highly stylised presentation but also due to the disturbing nature of much of it. But despite the dark undercurrents to the material this is a film of enormous visual and aural beauty. In my personal opinion this has to go down as a stonewall classic and a great example of what the animated movie format is capable of.

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