Cognitive Space - DJ Tendai

The home of DJ Tendai

East End Film Festival Review: Belladonna of Sadness with live score from The Voyeurs

By on 04/09/2014

The amazing & psychedelic Belladonna of Sadness was shown as part of the East End Film Festival at The Red Gallery in Shoreditch with a live score by Charlie Boyer & The Voyeurs

When you think of Japanese anime a movie of the likes of Belladonna of Sadness would not instantly come to mind. Originally released in 1973 the movie is influenced by Western artists like Gustav Klimt. Rather than having a traditional animation style as we know it – this movie is animated through lush still watercolours paintings that the camera pans across. The end result is a many times strange frightening & hallucinogenic experience on the senses that takes you on a journey into madness and witchcraft. Belladonna of Sadness unorthodox style did not go down too well on its initial release and it tanked in the box office and lead to the bankruptcy of the movie studio, but in more recent years the movie have achieved a newly founded cult status through the power of the internet


The film is based on the Jules Michelet book ‘Satanism and Witchcraft’ and tells the story of a woman who is raped on her wedding night by one of the town leaders and then is later accused of being a witch who later makes a pack with a spirit who turns out to be the devil in exchange for magical powers

This movie is truly psychedelic is more akin to the psychedelic 60s than to traditional anime as we know it today. It’s a real visual treat that hasn’t been seen in a long since in Japanese anime until the amazing Mind Game

Add to this the location, which were the caverns of Shoreditch’s Red Gallery was perfect for this screening. Not to distract from the visual treat of a movie Belladonna of Sadness is Charlie Boyer and The Voyeurs were set up on stage behind the screen so you couldn’t actually see them performing. I had never seen the movie before that day and nor had I ever seen The Voyeurs perform so I have no point of reference for how the film was prior to their rescore, but what I witness was the perfect meeting of minds between the score and movie. Synths and long note reverbed psychedelic guitars – the band’s live soundtrack was perfectly matched and echoed around the caverns of the gallery whilst you are exposed to the visual treat on screen

I’m hoping that this show isn’t a one-off as I would see it again. It’s a rare visual treat that should be experienced by all lovers of audio visual showcases

By Tendai