Previously at the ICA - Films

Sansho Dayu (Sansho the Bailiff)

13 Apr 201219 Apr 2012

Based on an ancient legend, as recounted by celebrated author Mori Ogai (in his short story of the same name, written in 1915), and adapted by Japanese director Mizoguchi Kenji, Sansho Dayu is both distinctively Japanese and as deeply affecting as a Greek tragedy. Described in its opening title as “one of the oldest and most tragic in Japan’s history”, Mizoguchi depicts an unforgettably sad story of social injustice, family love, personal sacrifice, and fateful tragedy.

Set in Heian era (11th century) Japan, it follows an aristocratic woman, Tamaki (played by Tanaka Kinuyo, who also stars in Mizoguchi’s Ugetsu Monogatari), and her two children, Zushio (Hanayagi Yoshiaki) and Anju (Kagawa Kyoko), who are separated by feudal tyranny from Tamaki’s husband. When the children are kidnapped and sold into slavery to the eponymous “Sansho” (Shindo Eitaro), the lives of each of the family members follow very different paths – each course uniquely, and insufferably, tragic.

Famed for its period reconstructions and powerful imagery, often through the director’s trademark long takes, Sansho Dayu is one of the most critically revered of all of Mizoguchi’s films, and a classic of world cinema.

Dir: Kenji Mizoguchi, Japan, 1954, 124 mins, Japanese with English subtitles, PG cert
Cast: Kinuvo Tanaka, Yoshiaki Hanayagi, Kyoko Kagawa.

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