Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sansho the Bailiff

Sansho the Bailiff plays a lot like a classic Shakespearean tragedy, and there's definitely a sadness and poignancy to the film. I can't say it really drew me into its story too much, but that's partly my fault for not giving it my full attention. I just don't always go for this kind of story, which seems to be trying a little too hard at times to be depressing for its own sake. Not that trying to get any sort of particular emotion out of the viewer is wrong, it's just not generally my cup of tea. It's still an obviously well done film, made perhaps a bit early to have some of the real stylistic touches that get me interested, but still good.

I wasn't really sure why it was called what it was. Sansho is a major character, but the movie is really about two siblings that get captured after their noble father is ousted and sold into slavery. They spend years toiling and trying to get back to their family, but as can be expected nothing goes as well as the protagonists hope it will. There are some solid melodramatic performances, and truly bitter moments of sadness. I just didn't find myself caring as much as director Kenji Mizoguchi wanted me to. There's not much more I can say than that.

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