Sita Sings the Blues is a refreshingly unique animation that has gotten a rise out of people on both sides of the open and shared culture debate. In the film, creator Nina Paley weaves together the strikingly personal story of her own divorce with the ancient Indian tale of Sita and Rama. Set to the alluring vocals of Annette Hanshaw, the soundtrack has elicited dispute over rights issues.
Paley says on her Web site, “I hereby give Sita Sings the Blues to you. Like all culture, it belongs to you already, but I am making it explicit with a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License. Please distribute, copy, share, archive, and show Sita Sings the Blues. From the shared culture it came, and back into the shared culture it goes. ”
The Archive welcomes this piece of art with open virtual arms, hoping to share this bit of culture with as many users as possible, as Paley has intended. You can download the full length film here, get high-resolution stills here, watch the trailer here, and see an interview with Paley regarding the connection between expression and copyright here.
While the cultural arguments have begun to define this work, the film stands firmly on its own as an utterly engaging and enjoyable piece of entertainment. The animation, which seamlessly flows between entirely different styles and story lines, is to be admired by even those who do not regularly seek out animated stories. Assuming the viewer is familiar with heartache and heartbreak (which they likely are), Rama and Sita and Nina and her ex-husband will be relatable in many ways.
With more than 40,000 downloads on archive.org and nothing but rave reviews it is clear that Paley has created a stand-out film. Enjoy it on the Archive, or, perhaps it’s playing near you.