Sansho the bailiff

Sansho the bailiff

DVD - 2007 | Japanese
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When an idealistic governor disobeys the reigning feudal lord, he is cast into exile, his wife and children left to fend for themselves and eventually wrenched apart by vicious slave drivers -- Container.

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s
scribby
Jul 24, 2017

There are more than 50 shades of grey.

This is a beautifully shot, tragic tale of Japan during the Heian Period (around the year 1000). The story, a Japanese folk tale about a noble family trapped and sold by slavers, is violent and depressing; but the acting is outstanding – and I can’t say enough about the cinematography. Watch it for that alone. Each frame is like a superbly balanced composition and the director knew how to use shading of all those greys (this is an old black-and-white film, after all) to create subtle atmospheric effects. I would recommend this to anyone who is studying film as art.

a
akirakato
May 16, 2016

This is a 1954 Japanese period drama directed by Kenji Mizoguchi (溝口健二), based on a short story of the same name (山椒大夫) by Mori Ōgai (森鴎外).
The film follows two aristocratic children who are sold into slavery.
The children grow to young adulthood at the slave camp.
Older sister Anju (安寿) still believes in the teachings of her father, which advocate treating others with humanity, but her brother Zushiō (厨子王) has repressed his humanity, becoming one of the overseers who punishes other slaves, in the belief that this is the only way to survive.
Anju hears a song from a new slave girl from Sado which mentions her and her brother in the lyrics.
This leads her to believe their mother is still alive.
Zushiō is ordered to take Namiji (波路), an older woman, out of the slave camp to be left to die in the wilderness due to her sickness.
Anju accompanies them, and while they break branches to provide covering for the dying woman they recall their earlier childhood memories.
At this point Zushiō changes his mind and asks Anju to escape with him to find their mother.
Anju asks him to take Namiji with him, convincing her brother she will stay behind to distract the guards.
Zushiō promises to return for Anju. However, after Zushiō's escape, Anju commits suicide by walking into a lake, drowning herself so that she will not be tortured and forced to reveal her brother's whereabouts.
It is a gripping and heartbreaking story.
"Sansho the Bailiff" bears many of Mizoguchi's hallmarks such as portrayals of poverty, a critical view of the place of women and elaborately choreographed long shots.
In any case, it is one of the Mizoguchi's finest works with Ugetsu (雨月) made in 1953.

l
lukasevansherman
May 06, 2015

Beautifully directed, emotionally devastating tale of a family torn apart in feudal Japan. The title character is not the protagonist, but a brutal slave master who runs a manor where a former governor's two children are forced to work after being taken from their mother. I'd compare to some of Bresson's films ("Mouchette," "Au Hazard Balthazar") in its ability to wipe you out, but director Kenji MIzoguchi isn't afraid of bigger, rawer emotional moments. One of the saddest films I've ever seen. Other important Mizoguchi films are "Ugetsu," "Life of Oharu," and "Street of Shame."

l
lukasevansherman
May 06, 2015

"A man is not human without mercy. Even if you are hard on yourself, be merciful to others."
Beautifully directed, emotionally devastating tale of a family torn apart in feudal Japan. The title character is not the protagonist, but a brutal slave master who runs a manor where a former governor's two children are forced to work after being taken from their mother. I'd compare to some of Bresson's films ("Mouchette," "Au Hazard Balthazar") in its ability to wipe you out, but director Kenji MIzoguchi isn't afraid of bigger, rawer emotional moments. One of the saddest films I've ever seen. Other important Mizoguchi films are "Ugetsu," "Life of Oharu," and "Street of Shame."

1
1aa
Feb 09, 2015

An awesome and heartrending story, told at a steady, stately pace, of tragedy and moral redemption.

i
i_am
May 10, 2014

Based on an ancient Japanese legend, 'Sansho, the Bailiff' is an unforgettable story of social injustice, family love, personal sacrifice and immense tragedy. Set in 11th century Japan, it follows an aristocratic woman and her two children whose lives follow very different paths as they are separated. A stark reminder of man's inhumanity to man, 'Sansho, the Bailiff' is one of the most critically revered of all Japanese films and is a supreme work of art that delivers the lesson 'Without mercy, man is like a beast'.

B__Lee Aug 11, 2011

Mizoguchi is one of the greatest directors in the history of film, and this is my favorite movie of his. ------------The film is set in medieval Japan, and dramatizes how the power of love and sacrifice help members of a nobleman's family savagely torn apart and sold into slavery rise above the degradations of a brutal world. The film is in beautiful. magical black and white, and Criterion did an absolutely first-rate job with this DVD - prints of the film I have seen in theaters did not look this good. It is a sad movie in many ways, yet beautiful and, in its own way, uplifting.

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