Thursday, November 5, 2009

Free movie: Sita Sings the Blues

If you're a fan of animation AND classic jazz/blues -- and even if you aren't -- I highly recommend taking the time to download and/or watch Nina Paley's clever, full-length animated movie, Sita Sings the Blues. The movie is a bit hard to describe. The story involves parallels the artist has drawn between her own life and the life of Sita of the Ramayana. It's told via an odd combination of 2D animation styles, the Ramayana, and some 1920s blues recordings from jazz great Annette Hanshaw, with some Bhangra tunes thrown in for good measure. In all of cinema history, the movie's closest cousin is probably The Beatles' animated film, Yellow Submarine. Like Yellow Submarine, the animation in Sita Sings the Blues is primarily limited in nature -- but it doesn't matter because here, the STYLE is the thing. The film has earned mostly favorable reviews from the critics who have seen it, including Roger Ebert, who awarded it four out of four stars.

Now, here's where the FREE part comes in: Sita Sings the Blues, unfortunately, is tied up in all sorts of legal and distribution hassles, mostly dealing with very old copyright laws and with attempts by (far-right AND far-left) extremists to censor the film. To bypass the mess and make sure the movie gets to be seen by anyone who wants to see it, Nina Paley has made the movie available for FREE to anyone who wants to download it, burn it onto DVDs, show it publicly, you name it. Mr. Sea and I downloaded a hi-def version of it onto our PlayStation 3 the other night, and it looks as good as any other high-quality animated movie. We've also watched it three times already. Yes, we like it that much. The entire movie is also posted onto YouTube in one huge clip.

For more information about the movie and the artist, please visit Nina Paley's Website at Support the artist with a donation if you can!


Erica said...

Wow -- thanks for sharing this! I expected to watch a few minutes and then pause and finish later, but couldn't find a stopping point until it ended :)

RAB said...

I totally agree: Sita is the only animated feature I can think of that could be counted as a true successor to Yellow Submarine…and in several respects it surpasses its predecessor. These are two of my all-time favorite movies, so I don't say this lightly!

When I saw it the first time (having already watched all the advance snippets that were posted online before its completion) I knew it had all been animated by one person working alone, and it blew my mind. After I watched it for maybe the third or fourth time, I remembered that this was all the work of one person and it blew my mind all over again. In between, I'd forgotten.

And isn't the story heartrendingly terrible and beautiful? And isn't the soundtrack amazing? And the running deconstruction of the story details even while it proceeds, isn't that great? And -- I'll stop now, but boy do I love this film.

Anonymous said...

Bring Sita home with a DVD of

Buy on Amazon:
Rent on Netflix:

Sita is a goddess separated from her beloved Lord and husband Rama. Nina is an animator whose husband moves to India, then dumps her by email. Three hilarious shadow puppets narrate both ancient tragedy and modern comedy in this beautifully animated interpretation of the Indian epic Ramayana. Set to the 1920's jazz vocals of Annette Hanshaw, Sita Sings the Blues earns its tagline as "the Greatest Break-Up Story Ever Told."

Need another reason why? Check out Roger Eberts Review!

Thomas Funkmonkey said...


thank you for sharing the good stuff yet again, Sea :-)

Sea-of-Green said...

You bet! I love the movie and thought I should share. :-)