Sita Sings the Blues

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Sita Sings the Blues is a very independent animated film that portrays a portion of the Hindu epic the Ramayana. It was created by Nina Paley, and the film is, remarkably, almost a solo effort.

The whole film is split into four different segments that are interwoven around one another. One of the main stories is set in modern times and depicts the director Nina Paley and her husband. At first, the couple is very close to each other, but after he is sent off to India and contacts her less and less, they begin to grow apart. Even after Nina flies out to India to be with him, she feels a distance between them. Eventually she returns to America on business, where she receives an email from her husband telling her that it is over. These parts show how Nina finally finds The Ramayana as help to get through her break-up and how Sita's relationship parallels her own.

The other piece of the film shows parts from The Ramayana, which mostly detail Rama's banishing to the forest, Sita's kidnapping by Ravana, and the aftermath of this incident. One segment describes the parts of the story as they come along and are narrated by three shadow puppets. The shadow puppets not only tell the audience about the story, but also point out inconsistencies and their own interpretations of characters and other elements.

These are followed by the episode from The Ramayana, which includes dialog from the characters. This segment is drawn to mimic the Rajput style of Indian art, which was used to illustrate some of the original versions of this particular epic. The animation here is rather limited, in order to look like illustrations. The dialog is somewhat more modern here as well.

The musical episodes then follow. They also show the portions from The Ramayana, but this time with less limited animation, and more cartoony character designs. Throughout these parts, the action plays out with no actual dialog from any of the other characters. Instead, Sita helps narrate the scenes by singing through recordings of Annette Hanshaw, a 1920s jazz/blues singer. The songs here are juxtaposed in order to match the kind of emotion that Sita is going through at the time.

This delightful movie can be watched and downloaded free and legally in various locations online. Really, drop what you're doing and watch it now, you'll thank us later.


Tropes used in Sita Sings the Blues include:


"...my man will come and rescue me, and when he does... your ass is grass."

  • Sparkling Stream of Tears: Sita uses these regularly.
  • Squiggle Vision: The parts with Nina.
  • Storming the Castle: The attack on Lanka.
  • Too Good for This Sinful Earth: The ultimate fate of Sita, as in The Ramayana, when the earth herself (Gaia) rises up to take Sita back into her womb.
  • Top-Heavy Guy: several, but Ravana takes the cake by having like, ten heads.
  • Villains Out Shopping: during the intermission, all the characters regardless of alignment go to get drinks and snacks together (Sita even takes a much needed toilet break).
  • What Happened To The Cat?: The cat shown with Nina at the end of the movie is not the same cat shown in the first scene. They know you're worrying and the first title card of the end credits lets you know Lexi is fine.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Agni the fire god doesn't just carry Sita out of the fire personally, he ropes in two more deities to deliver an epic WTHH to Rama.
    • Also done by his own children

That's all!