(Kanashimi no Beradonna, Eiichi Yamamoto, Japan 1973, 89 min., Japanese w/subtitles, DCP)
Primal Screen. Japanese animation has never been as transgressive as in this adaptation of a book by French historian Jules Michelet about Satanism and witchcraft, strongly influenced by the erotic imagery of Gustav Klimt and Aubrey Beardsley as well as by tarot cards and the LSD experience. That’s only the beginning, though: add to this explosive mix the tradition of Japanese anime, the psychedelic graphic style of the 1970s, a high-octane soundtrack by avant-garde jazz composer Satoh Masahiko, plus a robust injection of S&M, and the reasons the film was never released in the United States until now will become clear. Not for the squeamish or the PC, the ultimate cinematic manga from the director of Astro Boy has now been restored to its original cut, including eight minutes of surreal and explicit footage notoriously excised from the negative. Hailed by Village Voice as “a beautiful and disturbing X-rated animated fantasy,” this resurrected gem is also an arresting time capsule, bridging the Led Zeppelin aesthetics and the 21st-century cult of all things extreme.
Special presentation by Paolo Cherchi Usai, senior curator, Moving Image Department.