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Sansho the Baliff (The Criterion Collection)


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Product Details

  • Actors: Kinuyo Tanaka, Yoshiaki Hanayagi, Kyôko Kagawa, Eitarô Shindô, Akitake Kôno
  • Directors: Kenji Mizoguchi
  • Writers: Fuji Yahiro, Ogai Mori, Yoshikata Yoda
  • Producers: Masaichi Nagata
  • Format: Black & White, Dolby, DVD-Video, Full Screen, Subtitled, NTSC
  • Language: Japanese
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: UNRATED
  • Studio: Criterion
  • Release Date: May 22 2007
  • Run Time: 124 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000NOK0H6
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #40,180 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Grenier on 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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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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By A Customer on Aug. 14 2003
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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By A Customer on Nov. 2 2002
Format: VHS Tape
This is certainly one of the greatest works in cinema history - an overwhelmingly moving story, exquisitely filmed. I hereby enter my plea for its release on DVD as soon as possible.
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Format: VHS Tape
I saw this movie without any prior information about it and I became very impressed about all the camera work. It is really magnificent. I can close my eyes and see some of the images clearlly. I still remember some scenes with my heart full of emotion.
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By A Customer on June 24 2002
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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By A Customer on Jan. 29 2002
Format: VHS Tape
Second the motion to get this available in DVD.
Why is there no option for that? Most movies which are available on VHS only have a DVD link where a user can request to be notified when the movie is available on DVD, and from what I understand the powers that be are notified how many requests have been received asking for a DVD version.
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