Sunday, 7 February 2016

Film Review: Sita Sings the Blues

Sita Betty Boop Indian style. 
Sita Sings the Blues is a very strange but beautifully constructed animation about a indian tale about Sita and her husband. It was created by Jewish-American Nina Paley and contains a wide range of styles, from squiggly lines to full on Indian inspired deities. These styles are allocated to different time periods of the animation, the squiggly hand drawn style depicts the current ''in the now'' story about modern day Sita, who coincidently is named Nina) who's husband who gets a job in India and moves there, leaving her alone in America. She eventually, throughout the film, moves their with him, only to find that the husband no longer wants her - as depicted through the Indian side as well - and she ends up having to move back the america alone and mistreated. The other style is when the character Sita, who in this set of scenes looks like a Indian Betty Boop with bold red lines. This version of her sings 1920 songs with a Indian inspired background. It was rather difficult to follow the story but essentially it was two stories being told side by side. With a legendary tale told within it.

The story is expressed side by side with the modern tale of Nina and the legend of Sita. Sita goes through her trial of fire while Nina flies to India but is rejected by her boyfriend on several occasions, and finally Sita is taken by mother earth for being pure when Nina gets dumped, Nina’s feelings are being portrayed in a similar fashion to Sita going through her trial by fire, both emerging stronger at the other end.

It is a powerful film that artfully combines a selection of topics and styles, feels and deeply personal connections between the audience, Paley and the characters. There is no real comparison film or animation out that. Paley has done did a really good job with this piece, capturing a sense of deep emotional connection to both the main character and combining styles to tell a great story.

Illustration List:
Figure 1: Paley, Nina (2008) Nina at the airport [film still] available from: (accessed: 5/2/16)

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