Sansho the Bailiff
Yoshiaki Hanayagi, Kyoko Kagawa, Kinuyo Tanaka, Eitaro Shindo,
In eleventh-century Japan, two children are kidnapped and sold into slavery, while their mother, Tamiki (Kinuyo Tanaka), withers away on a distant island, dreaming only of being reunited with them. After many years, the son assumes his rightful post as provincial governor and sets about deposing the cruel bailiff who brought tragedy upon his family. As in Greek tragedy, this film’s distanced determinism vies with the direct engagement of the characters to affect the richest form of drama, a purity of emotion. In Kenji Mizoguchi’s films, it has been noted, the long shot is as psychologically astute as the close-up.