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The arc of this story is beautiful in itself, but Mizoguchi's telling of the tale is extraordinary. His moving camera seems weightless, and he effortlessly reminds us of how we've returned to certain key images that chart the progress of the characters: the breaking of a tree branch, the way water can swallow up a life, a song that ties together different lives and different places. As for the final sequence, it achieves a rare power, a mix of emotional tones reminiscent of the end of The Searchers. Mizoguchi made Sansho (Sansho Dayu in its original title) after having made The Life of Oharu and Ugetsu in the previous two years--surely one of the great creative bursts for any filmmaker. Yes, lavish praise can sometimes be dangerous, but now that we've got your attention, Sansho will make its own eloquent case. --Robert Horton
On the DVD
The Criterion Collection has a beautiful print of Sansho the Bailiff and a few illuminating extras. Most valuable are the new interviews with three people who knew Mizoguchi: a critic, an assistant director, and actress Kyoko Kagawa; all emphasize Mizoguchi as a director obsessed with the acting (and a taskmaster in the William Wyler-Stanley Kubrick mode), and suggest that his soaring use of long takes was designed to serve the performances. A booklet gives two versions of the original story source, plus a thoughtful essay by Mark Le Fanu. The commentary by Japanese-literature professor Jeffrey Angles puts its emphasis on cultural background rather than film criticism. --Robert Horton
A photoplay version of an ancient folk tale from when commercial slavery was an important contributor to regional Japanese economies (the so-called "Dark Ages" of some 1,200 years... Read morePublished 3 months ago by William F. Flanigan Jr.
With the hundred's of new Films released each Year - and the Tens of thousands available on DVD and Cable TV etc. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Book & Music thief, from HI
This movie is rated higher than any other Japanese movie on Amazon, but during and after watching it I could not help but feel deceived because instead of the development of the... Read morePublished 9 months ago by Vladimir Antimonov
Found this blu in a small shop in MD., on a Criterion shelf with but a few titles. New: $16! Had never heard of title nor director, but it being an "inexpensive" (! Read morePublished 14 months ago by Jrum C.
This director is not afraid of the dark side of a story. Very sad, gets sadder as it progresses. Also rather beautiful.Published 19 months ago by Chai Latte fan
A Nikkatsu silent film star turned director, Kenji Mizoguchi similar to Japanese filmmakers such as Akira Kurosawa and Yasujiro Ozu, having directed many films and in his 86-film... Read morePublished 22 months ago by Dennis A. Amith
First, let me say that this Blu-Ray from Criterion is a flawless, beautiful remastered print. The black and white photography is crisp, sharp and brilliant. Read morePublished 22 months ago by Jim Tarleton
The product was much more than I anticipated, which was a disc. Instead I received a book and disc, with a lot of information which enhanced my viewing, encased in a lovely... Read morePublished 22 months ago by Joan Nicholson