Sansho the Bailiff (1954) (1954)
December 19, 2022 5:28 PM - Subscribe

In medieval Japan, a compassionate governor is sent into exile. His wife and children try to join him, but are separated, and the children grow up amid suffering and oppression. Director Kenzo Mizoguchi's eighty-first movie.

#75 on the Sight and Sound Greatest Films.
posted by fleacircus (1 comment total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
This is lingering with me a little.

It is a morality tale, and it has a sort of fifties tone to it. It is often stiff and takes itself very seriously. And it centers the story on the son, too predictably. But, also, it has so much darkness in it, and enough moral intelligence, that it earns being taken a little seriously. It's not a revenge story... you can't take revenge on the whole brutal world. You can do a little bit.

Some critics say it is all about the final scene but I think the whole final sequence is so good, the search for the mother packed into a small period of time and a small area but contains so many emotional flip flops.

The part that sticks with me most is when Zushio is in the process of having Sansho arrested, and Sansho says, essentially, "Nice fairy-tale ending you got for yourself, kid.. How about you don't fuck it up?" All that time, though, I was screaming at Zushio to be smart about it, to use the system... but of course, that's not how people are.

A review mentions that the filmmakers strayed from the main story in having Zushio be complicit in the awfulness of the world, which I think is a very good change. It's also interesting in the context of Japanese guilt over WW2.
posted by fleacircus at 11:26 AM on December 20, 2022 [1 favorite]

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