Sita Sings the Blues


Animation / Comedy / Fantasy / Musical / Romance

Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 100% · 32 reviews
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 85% · 2.5K ratings
IMDb Rating 7.6/10 10 4891 4.9K


Top cast

751.39 MB
English 2.0
23.976 fps
1 hr 21 min
Seeds 36

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by PseudoFritz 10 / 10

A Blue Man Can Make a Woman Blue...

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.)

Reviewed by VirginiaK_NYC 10 / 10


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!!

Reviewed by Quinoa1984 10 / 10

the best animated musical of the decade... sorta

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.

Read more IMDb reviews

1 Comment

Be the first to leave a comment