Sansho the Bailiff | Chicago Reader

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124 minutes · 1954

This is one of the greats, and I'm too much in awe of it to say much more than: See it—as often as you can. Kenji Mizoguchi's 1954 film is the story of a family torn apart by political upheavals in 11th-century Japan—the children sold into slavery, the mother made a courtesan, the father lost. Mizoguchi looks out on utter devastation, but gathers the threads of his narrative—the visual and aural motifs, the sublime camera movements—to weave a final image of affirmation, transcendence, eternity. With Kinuyo Tanaka, Yoshiaki Hanayagi, and Masao Shimizu; photographed by Kazuo Miyagawa. In Japanese with subtitles.

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