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Sansho the Baliff (The Criterion Collection)

Kinuyo Tanaka , Yoshiaki Hanayagi , Kenji Mizoguchi    Unrated   DVD
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 42.99
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Sansho the Baliff (The Criterion Collection) + Ugetsu - Criterion Collection (1953)
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Product Description

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. Under Kenji Mizoguchi's dazzling direction, this classic Japanese story became one of cinema's greatest masterpieces, a monumental, empathetic expression of human resilience in the face of evil.

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Most helpful customer reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great, Beautiful Film - DVD Available July 1 2006
Format:VHS Tape
This is one of the most beautiful and heart-breaking films I've ever seen.

Unfortunately, I can't recommend the poor quality Homevision videotape. Luckily, there's a very good quality DVD of Sansho put out by Films Sans Frontieres, which you can buy from several vendors: XploitedCinema, DVDalliance, films-sans-frontieres, etc. You will need a multi-region DVD player to watch it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A man without mercy is no man July 12 2004
Format:VHS Tape
There is much praise heaped upon Mizoguchi Kenji's "Sansho the Bailiff," including the box cover calling it "one of the finest films ever made." I probably wouldn't go that far, but it is an excellent movie ranking amongst the best of the genre, standing tall with Kurosawa Akira films such as "Red Beard." It is very heavy, with a strong message.
Like Kurosawa, social responsibility is a strong theme in Mizoguchi's works. In "Sansho the Bailiff," we see a blending of the social classes, as an honest aristocrat is exiled, his wife sold to a brothel and his children made slaves, all because the aristocrat believed peasants deserved happiness as well, and that the aristocratic class had responsibilities to the peasants. Mixed together, you see cruelty and mercy amongst both classes, from the tyrannical Sansho and his friendly son Taro, or the martyred slave Namiji and the cruel Zushio willing to brand another slave on the head with a hot iron.
To this there is the message of mercy. "Be hard on yourself, but merciful to others" is the mantra passed from parent to child. A sacred image of Kannon, the Goddess of Mercy, is a family heirloom, passed down from generations as a reminder.
As in all Mizoguchi's films, it is ultimately the women who suffer, bearing the sins of men on their capable shoulders. Mizoguchi is considered a feminist in Japan, although the standards are different and most Americans would probably not consider "Sansho the Bailiff" a feminist film.
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5.0 out of 5 stars powerful film-making June 23 2002
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
If you are looking for light entertainment, this is not the movie to get. But if you want a film that gives a powerful portrayal of human suffering and the quest for justice, then you might want to consider Sansho the Bailiff. The story has its roots in Japanese folklore. Another reviewer has already given the basic plot, so I won't waste time on that. All I can say is that this movie is both heart-wrenching and breathtakingly beautiful. I first saw this film some 30 years ago and many of the images still stick in my mind. The scene midway through the film where Zushio and his sister Anju pull down a tree branch (a reccurence of an earlier scene) is one of those magical moments in cinema. The overall camerawork in this movie is second to none. Note how Mizoguchi will sometimes have the camera zoom out or pan away from highly emotional scenes. A lesser director would probably zoom "in" to exploit the situation. It's as though Mizoguchi doesn't want us to become too emotionally attached. Perhaps he is telling us that suffering, as much as we may abhore it, is just a part of this transient life. Whether you agree with my interpretation is not important. This film can work for moviegoers on many levels. Just be prepared for a highly-charged experience, if you rent or buy this video.
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5.0 out of 5 stars ONE THE BEST TEN MOVIES EVER MADE June 22 1999
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
Kenji Mizoguchi, unlike his country fellow Akira Kurosawa, did not make movies about Bushi (Warriors). His world is the world of the poor peasants, fallen women and so on. Sansho is unquestionably his greatest masterpiece and one of the best motion pictures ever made. The story is as follows: Father, a good hearted noble, is exiled. Mother is sold as geisha and sent to Sado Island. Children (Boy and a girl) are also sold as slaves to Bailiff Sansho and separated from their parents. A touching and astonishing movie. Beautiful black and white cinematography. A must see for all cinema lovers. Sansho is a wonder, and those who do not like Sansho do not like cinema. This is a must see for all cinema lovers. If you are not overwhelmed by this marvelous movie, NO other movie will!! BUY IT NOW!! You will not regret it. I assure you!
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5.0 out of 5 stars DVD, please. Jan. 22 2002
By H. Cha
Format:VHS Tape
I've been a customer of Amazon for 6 years now, and this is my first-ever review. But I would refrain from commenting in detail on the quality of this work of art because it would almost border on irreverence in my personal view.
In fact, the only reason I'm writing this is asking for a DVD edition of this timless classic. If any film deserves to be on a DVD format, this is the one.
Noting that Home Vision produced its VHS version, I hope its DVD version will be no less than a Criterion Collection.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Movie of the Year, 1961 Dec 22 1999
Format:VHS Tape
Just as a point of interest, Sansho the Bailiff (Sansho Dayu) was voted movie of the year by the Cahiers du Cinema in 1961. It beat out such classics as Godard's 'A Bout de Souffle', Truffaut's 'Tirez sur le Pianiste', Hitchcock's 'Psycho', Malle's 'Zazie dans le Metro', Ray's 'Party Girl', Losey's 'Time Without Pity', Fellini's 'La Dolce Vita', and Mankiewicz's 'Suddenly Last Summer' among others.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Please release in DVD Aug. 14 2003
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
I concur with other reviewers. This is one of the finest, most heartbreaking films ever made (the final scene of the mother and son on the beach, with the camera then pulling away to show their utter isolation and insignificance, is unforgettable in its intensity).
Why is there no option to ask for a DVD release? Why are none of Mizoguchi's films available on DVD (other than his 47 Ronin)?
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