Cinelicious Pics has signed a deal to restore and distribute the 1973 Japanese animated masterpiece Belladonna Of Sadness, as its first major restoration and re-release. The last film in the Animerama trilogy produced by the godfather of Japanese anime and manga, Osamu Tezuka, (Metropolis, Astro Boy) and directed by his long-time collaborator Eiichi Yamamoto, Belladonna is a mad, swirling, psychedelic lightshow of medieval tarot-card imagery with horned demons and haunted forests. Never before released in the U.S., Belladonna Of Sadness unfolds as a series of spectacular still watercolor paintings that bleed and twist together like an animated version of Chris Marker’s “La Jetée.” Cinelicious will restore the feature using the original 35mm camera negative and sound elements in anticipation of a 2015 theatrical, VOD and home video re-release in North America.
Cinelicious Pics, which launched earlier this year, is uniquely positioned to restore film through its parent company Cinelicious. “It took months of negotiations to convince the Japanese rightsholders to entrust us with the original camera negative of the film, which we’re restoring in-house,” said Cinelicious Pics’ president Paul Korver. “People will be simply blown away by the wild, hallucinatory images and soundtrack,”
“Belladonna Of Sadness belongs on a short list with Rene Laloux’s Fantastic Planet and Ralph Bakshi’s Wizards as one of the trippiest animated films ever conceived,” said Cinelicious Pics’ EVP of acquisitions and distribution Dennis Bartok. “This is a major rediscovery, and I have to give credit to Hadrian Belove at The Cinefamily here in L.A. for bringing the film to our attention.”
An innocent young woman, Jean (voiced by Katsutaka Ito) is savagely assaulted by the local lord on her wedding night. To take revenge, she makes a pact with the Devil himself (voiced by Tatsuya Nakadai, from Akira Kurosawa’s Ran) who appears as an erotic sprite and transforms her into a black-robed vision of madness and desire. The film is fueled by a Japanese psych rock soundtrack by Masahiko Sato.
The deal was negotiated by Korver, Bartok and president of business affairs Kristine Blumensaadt with Japanese rightsholders Gold View Co. and Mushi Productions.
Cinelicious Pics aims to bring an eclectic mix of foreign films, independent features and documentaries, as well as 4K-restored cult classics to U.S. audiences for the first time via theatrical release, VOD, Blu-Ray and 4K Television. The company’s current slate includes Giuseppe Makes A Movie, Metalhead, Gangs Of Wasseypur and Josephine Decker‘s Butter On The Latch and Thou Wast Mild & Lovely.