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BELLADONNA

Japan, 1973 (MIFF 1977)

Director: Eiichi Yamamoto

Belladonna is a full-length animation feature from the Japanese film maker, Eiichi Yamamoto.

Two younq lovers. Jean and Jeanne, live in a small French farming village during the Middle Ages. They are married, and, after the ceremony, present themselves at the court of the local Count. Despite their pleadings, the Count exercises his seigneurial right of the first night. Next day the lovers are re-united, both in despair. Jeanne believes that if God has allowed this to happen to her, then she can do without Him.

War takes off the men of the village to fight under the Count's standard. Poverty is widespread, but Jeanne earns good money by selling yarn, then by money-lending. Her wealth grows, and, realising that she had given herself to the Devil, she is looked upon with fear by the villagers.

When the Count returns, Jeanne is forced to leave the village and retreat to a valley, where the beautiful belladonna blooms. Here, she is free from God, the Count and the villagers. But the plague spreads throughout Europe, and at last reaches her village. The villagers come to her for help, and finally the Count sends for her and offers her a handsome reward for her secrets in concocting medicine. When she refuses, the Count condemns her as a witch ...

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