Monday, February 9, 2009

Sing It Loud!

Sita Sings The Blues (2009) directed by Nina Paley

Three stories all flash animated, and given to us, for all to view, on the Internet for FREE! The first involves a modern white couple in San Francisco. The man moves to India for a job, their relationship is strained, and the women eventually follows him, put things do not improve.
The second and really the main story, is of the Indian epic of Ramayana, through the eyes of Sita, Rama's beloved. Sita sings Annette Hanshaw jazz songs from the 1920's, as she's captured by an evil king, rescued by Hanuman the monkey king, and eventually spurned by Rama after being rescued, onto self immolation and being swallowed by the earth.
The third narrative, is the conversations of living shadow puppets or talking hieroglyphics, who debate, analyse, interpret and discuss the Ramayana, in an intellectual, charming, and very funny "directors commentary" sort of way, MST3K fans will surely enjoy. They point out what they view as contradictions, plot holes, ancient misogyny, like adults discussing their favorite childhood cartoons. This is a story that "prefaces" to being known by every child in India, after all. The self-reflexivity makes for an educational, insightful, and very, very funny look at the traditionally flat, mythological epic (I mean all epics).
The animation is simple, but brightly colored, and beautifully executed. The songs are delightful, and the shift in animation styles, as each story does, only adds more brighter threads to the tapestry. The best animated film of the year, by far. If you have an hour to kill watch it. It's a genuine shot of life, fun, spirituality, and history. And perhaps the best "break-up" film ever made, certainly the most epic.

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