Sita Sings the Blues (2008) is a English movie. Nina Paley has directed this movie. Annette Hanshaw,Aseem Chhabra,Bhavana Nagulapally,Manish Acharya are the starring of this movie. It was released in 2008. Sita Sings the Blues (2008) is considered one of the best Animation,Comedy,Fantasy,Musical,Romance movie in India and around the world.
The movie is about Sita, the Hindu Goddess from the epic "The Ramayana", who accompanies Lord Rama on a 14 year exile in forest. Sita is abducted by Ravana, the ruler of Lanka. This movie tells the story of Rama and Sita, along-with a biographical account of the director's relationship with her husband.
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My comment on the film: Bloody marvelous. "Sita Sings the Blues" shows how one person with a laptop computer and something to say can make a far more satisfying work than 90% of the garbage that gets cranked out by people with a thousand times the money but one-thousandth the inspiration. Whatever its entertainment value (which I found considerable), "Sita..." is a work of ART; it's an individual statement. But it's not simply the "message", either; in terms of execution, Nina Paley made as effective use of this tool (Flash animation) as I would ever expect to see. My comment on previous comments: Some have suggested that the piece would be "better" if Paley had left out the autobiographical bits, but that's simply nonsense. Her own story is integral to understanding how and why she chose to tell Sita's story the way she did. It isn't simply "background" to the telling of a story from the Ramayana; the piece is a meshing of Sita/Nina. By making the legendary story relevant to one woman's life, we see that it can be relevant to the lives of many. If the "point" of the work were simply to present the Ramayana on film the way "The Ten Commandments" is a filmed presentation of the Book of Exodus, it would be kind of silly to have Sita break into Blues songs in the first place, wouldn't it? Ms. Paley uses Sita's story as raw material, and uses Annette Hanshaw's recordings as raw material, to create something new and personal and totally contemporary. I can only hope that John Lassiter sees "Sita". Not that I think Pixar has any need to learn anything from Nina Paley, but maybe he can channel some Disney bucks to her so that it won't take her five more years to produce a follow-up. (Just so long as she's allowed total creative control.)
There are some movies that cannot be viewed separately from the story of their making - 'Citizen Kane', 'Apocalypse Now', virtually anything directed by Werner Herzog - and I feel that 'Sita Sings the Blues' is one of them. To put it mildly, Nina Paley has completed a Herculean task by making this film: 82 minutes of animation, fluid and beautiful, in four different styles, all on her own, on her own personal computer. For that fact alone, 'Sita' is a marvel. The picture leaks creativity at the edges. This is readily apparent even in the basic idea of it - the Ramayana of Valmiki, with songs by '20s jazz singer Annette Hanshaw as the singing voice of Sita, intercut with the India-related breakdown of the creator's own marriage, which paralleled Sita's, narrated by three 'Desi' English-speaking Indians that can't agree on the details or the motivations of the characters and analyze the story constantly and hilariously as they tell it. And all of it is animated. The animation is, like the rest of the movie, bursting with life. There are four styles, each used for a different story thread - a cardboard-cutout style for the narrated bits and hallucinatory interludes; a scratchy, Richard Condie-like style for the autobiographical bits; a Mughal miniature-like style for the traditional Ramayana bits; and a tweening-heavy vector graphics style for the song-and-dance Ramayana-meets-the-Jazz-Era bits. The first two thirds of the film establish which style is used for which story very firmly, making transitions and digressions easier for the audience to handle - a glimpse of a scribbled New York prepares us for autobiography, colorful rooftops for a Ramayana segment. Thus the picture's leaping about becomes almost natural after a while, and is never jarring. Also, laying down these ground rules pays off toward the end of the movie, when Paley starts to break them: this grabs the viewers' attention and sets the audience on alert when voices that we've been conditioned to expect while looking at cutouts intrude upon Flash animation. In short, Paley makes sure transitions aren't jarring so she can jar us with them later, to good effect. For example: at one point in the movie, the three Indian narrators tell us of a trick by an evil king to lure Rama away from his wife Sita so that the king can kidnap her while he is gone. We watch the plan hatched in cardboard-cutout style. We see it executed in Mughal miniature style. And we see the actual kidnapping occur during a Hanshaw song in the vector graphics style. Rama learns of his wife's disappearance in . . . Mughal miniature style. You, watching this, can never truly be impatient because you want to see what the screen will do next. That is high praise for a filmmaker. Most importantly, of course, the film is hysterically funny. The most humor (at least for me, as a Pakistani who gets the in-jokes) flows from the narrators, who try to remember the old story as they go along, discuss it, question its logic, think better of questioning its logic ('Don't challenge these stories!') and generally provide non-stop entertainment before the plot - which, really, is hardly a narrative masterwork - can move along. There are also several satirical barbs directed at the Ramayana as the behavior of Rama and Sita grows ever more unrealistic to twenty-first century listeners, what with sexism and vague motivations, but only the prickliest devotee can claim offense. The movie is, above all, good-natured - although Paley really is very VERY angry at that husband of hers. Just a note for anyone that understands Urdu or Hindi: the bizarre three-minute intermission halfway through the movie is the funniest part of the film due to one remark by what can only be a middle-aged auntie in the movie theater about the nature of the 'picture'. Keep your ears picked as the countdown ends. Trust me. It's easy to miss. Why only an 8, then? Reading what I've written, I sound absolutely ecstatic. But then, 9 stars for me is only for classic material, and I don't think 'Sita' is quite that. This is no masterpiece. It's just a thoroughly enjoyable movie that bursts with innovation and - pure and simple - irresistible style. Not enough filmmakers these days make movies that need to be 'pulled off'. Making 'Sita' cannot have been a safe or easy choice. Hats off to Nina Paley. By the way, due to copyright restrictions on the Hanshaw songs, Paley has been unable to release the film in the traditional way (for profit), and is giving it away for free on her website. Go watch it, and be sure to thank her afterwards. Highly recommended.
The glamour of India, the glamour of the 1920s, the depth-sounding drumbeat of the ancient mythic world, and the woman who loves the wrong kind of man – Nina Paley gets them all together, along with a relevant chunk of autobiography about a disappointing husband of her own, in her dazzling first full-length animated feature. In the ancient Indian story, the Ramayana, Sita is the wife of the man-god Rama, and the embodiment of the Virtuous Wife. She suffers one awful punishment and test after another from her mistrustful and apparently other-directed (what will people think? etc) husband. In Paley's movie, Sita steps forward from time to time to sing a torch-y Jazz Era song ("Mean to Me," and the like) in the voice of Annette Hanshaw, a stylistically elegant and not-well-enough-known voice of the '20s. Sita's story (kidnapping by 9-headed king, rescue by Rama, rejection by Rama, monkey-god help) alternates with modern-day episodes about Nina's own real-life inexplicably disintegrating marriage, and also with the occasional very funny and illuminating conversation about the Ramayana and its meanings among several of the filmmaker's witty and well-educated Indian friends ("The king had four wives . . . no, three wives . . . three wives and four sons, that's right!!. . . . " "You know if Sita had just gone with the monkey a lot of lives would have been spared . . . "). You can enjoy it just for the luxurious pleasure of Paley's use of Indian artistic styles in motion, from powerful ancient Hindu motifs, to detailed Moghul-ish backgrounds, to deliriously gaudy street-market devotional calendar art. For myself, I also came away with the best grasp I've had yet on the Rama-Sita story, more than worth knowing both on the archetypal front (Some Things Never Change) and as background to the hundreds of Indian movie stories that take it up from one angle or another. July 28, 2009 NOTE - now on DVD!!
Nina Paley is the kind of filmmaker that makes the auteur theory look dated. This isn't a case of a director putting her vision on the screen via a crew of technicians and a cast of actors. This IS her vision, down to all of the designs and animation, which she did over the course of five years (a dedication of time that recalls a director like David Lynch on Eraserhead or Inland Empire). It was all done on computer- reportedly only one intern helped animate some of a battle sequence- and it's being presented for free on the website for Sita Sings the Blues. And yet, if you have a chance (as I had) to see it on the big screen, it's one of the events of the year if you love animation and daring in film-making. It's a personal story of Paley's break-up with her boyfriend (who did it, savagely, over email), and put into a context of the story of the Ramayana, an ancient Indian story about a woman, Sita, and her bond with the blue-skinned Rama over a lifetime. At the same time Paley uses animation and music and documentary and the free-wheeling expression of cinema to make it unconventional. We see Indian drawing figures ala Monty Python animation discussing story points as they go along, which name is who's and what detail really happened, etc. And then there are musical segments put to Annette Hanshaw, a 1920's jazz singer, to illustrate Sita's journey through the turbulent ups and downs of romance. Sita Sings the Blues is joyous entertainment. One can tell that Paley was exorcising some past strife, namely from her own break-up that we see in the film in a scraggly Dr. Katz style of animation, but what's most striking is how it's tragedy is never ever a downer. On the contrary this is a comedy in a fresh sense, where the absurdity keeps coming in little unexpected ways, like with the figures of the monkeys in battle, or how the discussing members talk over the details of the Sita cast members. And the musical numbers are just about the best one has seen all decade (which goes without saying the lack of competition, but still), as we see Sita sing her feelings and thoughts, sometimes in happiness and sometimes totally down in the dumps (re: her pregnancy and abandonment after being rescued). There's a complex web of emotions that Paley navigates through, and she does it so confidently that it's hard not to marvel at her achievements here. It's an independent film in the best sense of the word, the truest sense, uncompromised by studio interference or for any kind of 'demographic'. It's a dark comic feminist musical fable that includes an intermission, a cast of hundreds (animated, not voiced), and it strikes up your heartstrings in the best possible ways. It's a post-modern breakthrough, and I can't wait to revisit it, oh, right about now I would say.
The vocalist in Sita Sings the Blues is Annette Hanshaw, a jazz vocalist 75 years ago, now probably unremembered by all but researchers. She is remembered now as one of the integral elements in Nina Paley's beautifully animated first film, produced on her laptop computer over a period of five years. For me, this is a landmark film in dissolving my resistance to animation. The other elements so well integrated are the personal history of Nina Paley's broken marriage, the analogous situation of Sita's rejection by Rama in the Indian epic, Ramayana, and animated (in both senses) conversation about that epic. I first enjoyed this in a press screening for the 2008 Seattle International Film Festival. Then I took visiting relatives, including a 9 year old granddaughter, to see it. All were delighted. This is that rare film that appeals both to children and adults. The animated Sita reminded me of Betty Boop, but with a greater emphasis on the boobs. Time does march on.