Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Film Review - Sita Sings the Blues (Nina Paley, 2008)

Fig 1. Sita Sings the Blues Poster.

Sita Sings the Blues is a film by Nina Paley and contains two separate stories. One is about Sita and her part in an old Indian legend called 'The Ramayana'. The other is about the artists own life, mainly focusing on her relationship with her husband leading to a break-up. The film draws these two stories together by intersecting them at key points, the two characters of Nina and Sita share moments of joy and sorrow which helps to emphasize the specific similarities in their two separate worlds.

The film has two unique styles of animation within it. Whenever it is telling of the Indian legend it is a very graphic and bold style of 2D animation and whenever it switches to the artists story it is hand drawn and rougher. This is a clever design decision as it is as a result easy to assume that the rougher style is what's real and the cleaner, more graphical style is the legend.

Fig 2. Modern Indian Voice-over.

In his review of the film, Roger Ebert states ''In addition to her characters talking, Paley adds a hilarious level of narration: Three voice-over modern Indians, Desis, ad-libbing as they try to get the story straight. Was Sita wearing jewelry or not? How long was she a prisoner in exile? How did the rescue monkey come into the picture?'' (Ebert, 2009). The addition of a modern voice over adds a much needed level of comedy to the Indian story. There is regular confusion between the multiple voices over the smaller details of the story as they all remember the story differently. These moments with the modern Indians provide breaks from the main narrative for the audience, and are cleverly placed evenly throughout its telling.

Overall the film has many unique and separate parts and pieces, yet it manages to pull it all together in a succinct and vivid story. This makes it a particularly refreshing film and an astonishing achievement for a single individual to accomplish.

Illustration List

Paley, N (2008) Figure 1. Sita Sings the Blues Poster. (Accessed on 01/02/16)

Paley, N (2008) Figure 2. Modern Indian Voice-over. (Accessed on 10/02/16)


Ebert, R (2009) (Accessed on 10/02/16)

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