- Luminous 11/23/2002 12:00:00 AM by allan825
Luminous...painterly...haunting...devastating...in terms of both substance and style, a cinematic achievement of the very highest order. Like all great works of art, it is incomparable, although it would not be misleading to place it in the company of the very best of Renoir, Ford, and Kurosawa. It has the same kind of compassionate humanism, high-caliber storytelling, and effortless-seeming mastery of the medium...the same generosity.
I prefer this film even to the great (and much better-known) Ugetsu. And I know now why Welles once said that Mizoguchi "can't be praised enough, really." I hope one day this film will be as well known as it deserves to be.
- An enormously powerful tale of oppression and resistance 11/30/2002 12:00:00 AM by davidals
I don't consider SANSHO DAYU to be the best introduction to the great Kenji Mizoguchi, but - after many viewings, I do consider it to be the best of what I've seen.
In the years after WWII, Mizoguchi's interest in period drama deepened - he ultimately was best known outside of Japan for his period dramas (jidaigeki), though his take on the historical film was highly personalized with the introduction of contemporary thematic elements, and this film is the high water mark in that development, with a detailed story exploring oppression, class structures and societal ethics.
Late in life, Mizoguchi's interest in Buddhism also expanded tremendously, which is reflected to a great degree in this film, with various sacrifices, renunciations of privilege, and familial reconciliations figuring prominently in the intricate story - notably so at SANSHO's magnificent ending.
- A haunting, heartbreaking masterpiece 10/24/1999 12:00:00 AM by sansho-4
Man's inhumanity to man is presented here with no artifice. This has long been a favorite of mine, although it's difficult to sell many others on the premise -- an honest, benevolent Governor in medieval Japan is imprisoned by the military regime, forcing his wife, son, and daughter to fend for themselves. They are soon captured, separated, and sold into slavery, but remained determined to reunite.
There's something about the medieval Japanese setting that lends itself to explorations of grandiose themes painted with a broad brush. This will break your heart, and belongs on your shelf next to "Ran".
- A great film tell us a very important precept which is almost forgotten 1/20/2000 12:00:00 AM by ynpad
I'm so moved. This is not only one of the greatest film of Mizoguchi but also tell us a very important precept which is almost forgotten. That is "Without mercy, a man is not a human being. Be hard on yourself, but merciful to others." This is very important precept, but how many people still know or remember it? I'd like to use this film for children's educational program. Now I know why "Sansho the Bailiff" was voted for No.1 film of the year beating so many great films like "La Dolce Vita", "Psycho" and so on.
- A timeless masterpiece 9/24/2007 12:00:00 AM by ron-chow
The first time I saw this film was when I was in university. It impressed me greatly then. Watching it again recently invoked the same emotion - I was deeply saddened by the horrific acts one human can do to the other. And guess what, a century later the human race has not really advanced that much in this area.
While the film also highlights the noble side of us - compassion and mercy to the weak, maintenance of integrity amid suffering - it is the downside of it that gets me. I finished the movie feeling depressed, as I did several decades ago.
Super B/W photography, a good story, and masterly directing by Mizoguchi make this a classic film of all time. Find an evening when you yearn for artistic fulfillment, and yet are prepared to pay an emotional price for it. Highly recommended for the serious film buffs.