When Nina Paley's marriage to an Indian animator fell apart a few years ago, she did what any woman in that situation would do: she taught herself filmmaking by creating a stylized, animated musical version of the Ramayana based on the jazz recordings flapper-era vocalist Annette Hanshaw, duh.
The result, Sita Sings The Blues, is part Moulin Rouge, part Little India, and part Betty Boop-shreds-on-Quake II. And that's just the kid-friendly clips that're on YouTube.
If her frame of mind had been more commercial and less art therapeutic, Paley might have researched the rights of the recordings she used, so she could actually have a chance at releasing her film, maybe even make a little money back on it. But then she might not have gotten semi-annual sympathy posts from the copyfighters at Boing Boing.
As it is, an 82-minute version of Sita Sings The Blues will be broadcast on WNET, New York's public television station, on March 7th, after which it will be available online for free. Free DVD copies housed in fancy, limited-edition collectible art jewelboxes will follow.
Nina Paley's website [ninapaley.com]
Ramayana Musical Part 01 of 04 Here We Are [youtube]
Parts 2, 3, and 4, and the Bollywoodier trailer [youtube]
update: Now your kid can watch all 82 minutes of Jazz Ramayana online! [thirteen.org]