Close Up

5 August - 1 September 2019: Sansho the Bailiff


Sansho the Bailiff
Kenji Mizoguchi, 1954, 124 min
Japanese with English subtitles

"Sansho the Bailiff is both one of Mizoguchi’s most accessible works and one of his most sublime, a highpoint among postwar Japan’s jidai-geki films set in the medieval past. The narrative impassively follows two families caught up in sweeping cycles of rise and fall, betrayal and resignation, as Mizoguchi’s tracking shots both entrance with their majesty and shock with surprise. "Perhaps more than anything, this is a film about memory, and a film in which forgetting is the original sin. Working with master cameraman Kazuo Miyagawa (who also shot Rashomon and Floating Weeds), Mizoguchi creates an aestheticized world and a cosmic order which exists beyond the characters (and often in opposition to the suffering they undergo)." (Tom Gunning)" – Harvard Film Archive

Part of our trilogies and triptychs programme