by request: whiteboyz (mark levin, 1999)
the walking dead and game of thrones

sansho the bailiff (kenji mizoguchi, 1954)

Does it mean something that it’s 24 hours since I watched this, and I’ve had plenty of time to write about it, but I keep putting it off? I liked the only other Mizoguchi I’ve seen (Ugetsu), but to be honest, I can’t remember the damn thing. I remember Sansho because I’ve only had one day to forget it. I can’t think of anything bad to say about it, and there are some scenes that are quite memorable. I knew while I was watching that I was seeing a very good movie. But here I am, 24 hours later, and I don’t have anything to say about it. I guess I’ll resort to spoilers … hey, the movie’s almost sixty years old, I think it’s OK to talk plot points. The family at the center of Sansho the Bailiff is filled with good people (none of whom are Sansho … I’m not sure why he gets to be the title character). They suffer, oh do they suffer, like Job, or like Björk in Dancer in the Dark. As the film begins, the father, a governor, pisses off his Lord (I think for being too nice to his peasants) and gets sent off to a distant province. The wife, son, and daughter do not accompany him. Later, those three are tricked and captured, with the mother sold into prostitution and the kids being sold into slavery. Many years later, the son escapes thanks to the sacrifice of his sister, who commits suicide before she can be tortured into telling of her brother’s whereabouts. What follows approaches a happy conclusion, but what sticks in your mind is the child slavery. #82 on the They Shoot Pictures, Don’t They list of the top 1000 films of all time.


Jeff Pike

I only know this and Ugetsu by Mizoguchi so not sure it always applies, but yeah, all bare trees and unrelenting bleak arcs. I admire them a lot, but forget them too. My theory about the title: Sansho's death is the point where the son most utterly betrays that saying his father left him with. In other words, high on the bleak meter!

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)