Average User Score: 7.6Oct 7, 2013Sita Sings the Blues is a 2009 artistic retelling of the Ramayana. It satirically tells the story of Rama on his journey to save his wife SitaSita Sings the Blues is a 2009 artistic retelling of the Ramayana. It satirically tells the story of Rama on his journey to save his wife Sita from the nearly invulnerable king of Lanka, Ravana. But this isn’t a normal movie, it is cut up into four different artistic styles that blend together to convey the artist and directors own experiences, views, and perspective on the ancient Indian epic.
The first of these styles is done with three narrators. Each portrayed by an ornate Indian shadow puppet, one female and two males. They talk with each other and tell the story of the Ramayana but not in perfect detail. They misinterpret things and forget facts and do come across as almost everyday people who grew up with this story quite similar to if my friends and I tried to tell the story of the bible (us all being nonreligious). Through this the story is conveyed in an interesting, and surprisingly humorous way. With all of the narrators joking around and mispronouncing some of the characters names it keeps the flow of the movie going without pouring out to much information in an uninteresting and drab manner whilst still informing the audience.
The second and probably least used style is the actual story of the Ramayana. It comes in short snippets portrayed in authentic Indian artwork which makes it much choppier in animation, but still quite visually pleasing. Lots of satire and humor is used these segments which is sometimes corny and overdone but I did catch myself snickering and sometimes laughing at the silly jokes.
My favorite parts of this movie are done in Pixar like, crisp animation. These parts are beautiful in both visuals and sound. During these segments Sita sings, as the title suggests, 1920s style blues from an artist named Annette Hanshaw. Each of these songs are sung relating to the story, for instance when Rama’s army is storming the gates of Lanka to rescue Sita from the dreaded king Ravana she sings a song about her love knocking at the door. This is an incredibly interesting artistic choice which I feel was done amazingly. The childish movie animation and aesthetics mixed with the 20s music and graphic scenes of the Ramayana creates an experience unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. These parts are interesting and really help you connect with Sita as a character, but still keep her remotely alien. I would watch this movie again solely for these parts and I would be lying to you if I said I didn’t have one of the songs stuck in my head and I am not planning to buy the music.
The final and probably most important parts of the movie are centered on the fourth style. In these segments it uses cartoon strip esque art. It tells of the artist and writer of this movie, Nina Paley, in a relationship with a man named Dave who is also an artist. He gets a job in India and moves there without her. After little communication he invites Nina to India to live with him and she accepts. A short time later she goes on a business trip to New York and Dave dumps her over Email. She is devastated and buys a small cold apartment and tries to get Dave back. The movie ends with one of these scenes where she walks into a new and clean suite with pictures of the shadow puppets on the wall, a fancy computer, and shows her going to sleep after reading a segment of the Ramayana.
The reason the comic parts are so important to the story is because the entire movie is from the perspective and interpretation of this women who was gravely hurt romantically. The 20s blues and most of the story being based around Sita’s experiences instead of Rama’s is evident of this. The entire movie is geared around Nina and Sita and their misfortune with their unsuccessful romantic endeavors. Throughout the movie I found myself sympathizing with both of them and wanting to help. The movie near the end really stressed the idea of the women’s dharma of being a wife as petty.
Overall Sita Sings the Blues was an incredibly interesting movie. Its different art styles and themed segments made for a unique experience I will have to share with other people somewhere down the road. The blend of Indian history, personal experience, relationship issues, artistic variations, and 20s musical numbers made for a story telling experience unlike anything I’ve seen before. I would suggest any person who is interested in unique storytelling and Indian culture to watch this movie, but an average audience would probably not find interest in this movie.… Expand