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Tezuka’s ‘Belladonna of Sadness’ at the Nuart

“Belladonna of Sadness” (1973, 1 hour, 26 minutes) will be screened on Friday, March 30, at 11:59 p.m. at the Nuart Theatre, 11272 Santa Monica Blvd. (just west of the 405 Freeway) in West Los Angeles.

One of the great lost masterpieces of Japanese animation, never before officially released in the U.S., “Belladonna of Sadness” is a mad, swirling, psychedelic light-show of medieval tarot-card imagery with horned demons, haunted forests and La Belle Dame Sans Merci, equal parts J.R.R. Tolkien and gorgeous, explicit Gustav Klimt-influenced eroticism.

The last film in the adult-themed Animerama trilogy produced by the godfather of Japanese anime and manga, Osamu Tezuka, and directed and co-written by his long-time collaborator Eiichi Yamamoto (“Astro Boy,” “Kimba the White Lion”), “Belladonna” unfolds as a series of spectacular still watercolor paintings that bleed and twist together.

An innocent young woman, Jeanne (voice of Aiko Nagayama) is violently raped by the local lord on her wedding night. To take revenge, she makes a pact with the Devil himself (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.

Extremely transgressive and not for the easily offended, “Belladonna” is fueled by a mind-blowing Japanese psych-rock soundtrack by noted avant-garde jazz composer Masahiko Satoh.

This new digital restoration includes over 8 minutes of surreal and explicit footage cut from the negative. Not rated; no one under 18 admitted. Subtitled in English.

For more information, call (310) 473-8530 or visit

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