• Jamie Morris

Weekend Pick: Belladonna of Sadness

This 1973 cult classic is a striking and unforgettable venture into the world of avant-garde animation...

Conceived as part of producer (and Astro Boy creator) Osamu Tezuka’s Animerama trilogy of adult-orientated projects, Belladonna of Sadness pushes the stylistic and conceptual boundaries of traditional animation to their breaking point.

Writer-director Eiichi Yamamoto tells the story of Jeanne, a peasant who is raped by a noble on her wedding day and subsequently seduced by Satan into becoming a powerful witch.

Haunting watercolour visuals and an incredible jazz score make this a beautiful nightmare of a film, as Jeanne embarks on a psychedelic journey through both agonising pain and other-worldy pleasures.

Belladonna’s harrowing subject matter and abstract approach will no doubt make it unpalatable for some, but it’s a terrific – if not terrifying – example of what animation can look like when it steps outside of the box and into dark, unexplored territory.