Captivating, mesmerizing, spellbinding—I'll throw everything in the movie-critic book at this animated feature by Nina Paley. After her husband took a job in India and then dumped her, Paley immersed herself in the Ramayana and was drawn to the character of Sita, whose devotion to her husband, Rama, knows no limits. Funky and endlessly beautiful, the movie combines four narrative threads, each with its own style: jiggly cartoons tell the story of Paley's marriage coming apart; sequences based on traditional 18th-century Rajput paintings show Sita being kidnapped by a demon king and rescued by Rama, who then doubts her sexual fidelity; Indian shadow puppets dramatize a freewheeling soundtrack discussion in which three contemporary Indians dissect and debate Sita's tale; and colorful, geometrical sequences created with 2D vector animation marry Sita's ideal of sacrifice to seductive 20s and 30s recordings by jazz vocalist Annette Hanshaw. Music clearance issues have stalled the movie's release and limited Paley to a DVD run of less than 5,000, so she's offering free downloads of the entire movie at sitasingstheblues.com.
Director: Nina Paley
Writer: Nina Paley
Cast: Deepti Gupta and Sanjiv Jhaveri