Sansho the Bailiff / 山椒大夫

Extra sad! Down with capitalism!


Release Date: March 31, 1954
Director: Kenji Mizoguchi
Language: Japanese

Who should watch this movie: People who think Kurosawa is the only Japanese director of note.  

When should you watch this movie: When you have the next 48 hours to recover emotionally. 

The sell: Sansho the Bailiff starts sad and gets sadder! The saddest thing, however, is how under appreciated Mizoguchi is as a director. Mizoguchi takes a short story by Mori Ogai and turns it into so much more. Zushio and Anju are stolen from their mother and sold into slavery. Through their struggle, the movie asks the audience if your principles are worth your life and your family’s life. Spoiler alert, there is no satisfying answer. The film is highly critical of exploitative power structures, but complicates the romantic notion of standing up to those structures.

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