Wednesday, January 14, 2009

sita sings the blues

A lot of the art that I most immediately connect to (that moves me most, makes me think) ties biography and history into a whole that is inseparable and beautiful. The film Level 5, by Chris Marker, makes connections between the (fictional) story of a woman in the aftermath of a breakup and documentary footage of the history of the mass suicide on the island of Okinawa after WWII. I have never seen another movie like it and think about it and what the story means for us now a lot. I saw the film once, ten years ago.
Nina Paley, in Sita Sings the Blues, has created what looks to be an amazing film based on the epic Indian tale of Ramyana. Roger Ebert has written about this much better than I could here. (I keep forgetting how much I love Mr. Ebert and the way he champions movies - you can read this to learn about his own relationship to film and learning to draw.) As far as I understand, Ms. Paley's film focuses on Sita, the cruelly rejected wife of Ramyana. The story has parallels with Ms. Paley's own life. She tells both their stories using animation, a voice over documentary conversation between three Indian's trying to remember the details of the story from childhood memories, and songs from the 1920s by Annette Hanshaw. So it has all of my favourite elements (biography/history/documentary/song). I can not see the film yet as Ms. Paley's use of the songs from the '20s has led her into a copyright fight with some behemoth or other. Nina Paley does have a plan though. She blogs about all this and displays a lot of her work at her wonderful blog site here.
The trailer says much more than I can here:

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