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Sansho the Baliff (The Criterion Collection)

4.9 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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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: 4.9 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews
  • ASIN: B000NOK0H6
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #53,902 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)
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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.

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
Without mercy, man is like a beast, that’s inscribe on the back cover of this most heartbreaking movie
that I’ve even seen, there is NOT one director in-todays standers that could re-invent this movie
from its original form ever, ever, I think I’ve said that an I would say it again an again, there is something
so different in the way the Asian Act that can not be matched by us southerners no way in hell could it be done,
there is a deep sense of a deep-rooted emotional history that’s embedded in their psyche that could not
be explained, it maybe something you would have to live through, this story has been told here so I wont waste
time with that, just to say this new an improved edition by Criterion is the best,
it is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on widescreen television the black bars will appear on the
left an the right of the image to maintain the proper format, the digital transfer was created on a Spirit Datacine
from a 35 mm fine-grain master positive, Thousands of dirt, debris, scratches, splices, warps, jitter, and
flicker were manually removed using MTT’s DRS and Pixel Farm’s PFClean while Image Systems’ DVNR was used
for small dirt, grain and noise reduction,
the original monaural soundtrack was re-mastered at 24-bit from two optical soundtrack prints, clicks, thumps, hiss,
and hum were manually removed using Pro Tools HD. Crackle was attenuated using AudioCube’s integrated workstation,
this information is from the booklet that came with the blu-ray. there is two version to read in this booklet,
the only good thing that has come out of this is, with all the suffering of the people there was not one drop of blood,
1954. 124 min.
Japanese with English Subtitles.
very easy to read because its more on the facial expression an emotional side of things,
You’re Crazy If You don’t See This...
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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 June 23 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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