Lost in the Movies: Belladonna of Sadness as TWIN PEAKS CINEMA #12 (podcast)

Belladonna of Sadness as TWIN PEAKS CINEMA #12 (podcast)

An appropriate tie-in to my recent listener feedback episode of the Patreon podcast, which included a passage on the dark fairy tales themes coursing through Twin Peaks (specifically emphasizing Sleeping Beauty and the work of Anne Sexton), the Japanese proto-anime Belladonna of Sadness also kicks off the new three-month season of Twin Peaks Cinema. I'm calling this season's theme "Traumatic Transformations". These films all begin with characters haunted by trauma: loss of loved ones, abuse by powerful men, sometimes both. These traumas become wrapped up in fantasies of various kinds, some casually poetic (a fairy tale read to children when babysitting), some obsessively escapist (a UFO special sparking both avoidance of and a search for the more disturbing truth), and some literally manifesting in supernatural powers (an impoverished peasant evolving into a hypnotic witch whose magic threatens the very lord who raped her). Even the more realistic films suggest, in an offhand way much like Twin Peaks, that the tragedies unfolding across their communities may be connected on some deep, fundamental level with an individual's private crisis. This is certainly true of Belladonna of Sadness, a fascinating project mixing fable with social history, psychology with pornography, and static illustration with pulsating psychedelic montage. Connections to Peaks abound, perhaps most directly to The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer as our heroine Jeanne struggles with a BOB-like demon who is both a manifestation of her own personal defiance and a product of the assault which has become intertwined with her own identity.

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by Katie L'amblyoptic (25 Years Later)

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