386 Sansho the Bailiff

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Buttery Jeb
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386 Sansho the Bailiff

#1 Post by Buttery Jeb » Fri Feb 16, 2007 11:11 am

Sansho the Bailiff

[img]http://criterion_production.s3.amazonaws.com/release_images/1190/386_box_348x490_w128.jpg[/img]

When an idealistic governor disobeys the reigning feudal lord, he is cast into exile, his wife and children left to fend for themselves and eventually wrenched apart by vicious slave drivers. Under Kenji Mizoguchi's dazzling direction, this classic Japanese story became one of cinema's greatest masterpieces, a monumental, empathetic expression of human resilience in the face of evil.

Special Features

- New, restored high-definition digital transfer
- Audio commentary by Japanese-literature professor Jeffrey Angles
- New video interviews with critic Tadao Sato, assistant director Tokugo Tanaka, and legendary actress Kyoko Kagawa on the making of the film and its lasting importance
- New and improved English subtitle translation
- PLUS: A book featuring a new essay by scholar Mark Le Fanu; the story on which the film was based, Mori Ogai's Sansho dayu

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ellipsis7
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#2 Post by ellipsis7 » Fri Feb 16, 2007 1:44 pm

Dave Kehr in the Chicago Reader...
This is one of the greats, and I'm too much in awe of it to say much more than: See it--as often as you can. Kenji Mizoguchi's 1954 film is the story of a family torn apart by political upheavals in 11th-century Japan--the children sold into slavery, the mother made a courtesan, the father lost. Mizoguchi looks out on utter devastation, but gathers the threads of his narrative--the visual and aural motifs, the sublime camera movements--to weave a final image of affirmation, transcendence, eternity.

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GringoTex
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#3 Post by GringoTex » Fri Feb 16, 2007 3:03 pm

This will probably be the first time I'm passing up on the Criterion. I'm waiting for the MoC boxsets.

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sevenarts
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#4 Post by sevenarts » Fri Feb 16, 2007 4:10 pm

GringoTex wrote:This will probably be the first time I'm passing up on the Criterion. I'm waiting for the MoC boxsets.
Not the first time, but I'm certainly waiting for the MOC. I'm sure the image will be comparable on both, and I could care less about extras.

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tryavna
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#5 Post by tryavna » Fri Feb 16, 2007 4:12 pm

Since I already have Criterion's Ugetsu, which seems a likely inclusion in the MoC set, this release is quite appealing to me, especially since it looks like it will be released at least a few months earlier than the MoC set.

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#6 Post by Narshty » Fri Feb 16, 2007 4:33 pm

Interesting (and a shame) that they've junked both the laserdisc commentaries for their Mizoguchi releases so far (Sansho had a track by Thomas Gunning, Ugetsu a group track that included Donald Richie).

But, honestly, can anyone look here and say with hand on heart they think the Criterion will look significantly better?

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Derek Estes
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#7 Post by Derek Estes » Fri Feb 16, 2007 4:34 pm

I cannot wait for this release! It can't come soon enough.

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alandau
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#8 Post by alandau » Fri Feb 16, 2007 6:09 pm

Criterion of the year. The film is sublime.

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TheGodfather
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#9 Post by TheGodfather » Fri Feb 16, 2007 6:49 pm

tryavna wrote:Since I already have Criterion's Ugetsu, which seems a likely inclusion in the MoC set, this release is quite appealing to me, especially since it looks like it will be released at least a few months earlier than the MoC set.
Same goes for me. Will be getting this. Loved Ugetsu and I`m really interested in seeing more of Mizoguchi`s work. Will be keeping an eye out of course for the MoC boxset...

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Scharphedin2
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#10 Post by Scharphedin2 » Fri Feb 16, 2007 7:19 pm

I own the FSF release of Sansho, but there is no way that I am not picking this up. The literary texts in the booklet alone will be worth it. And I think the artwork looks to be some of the most beautiful of any Criterion release -- it really captures the spirit of the film.

The MoC box will be worth its weight in gold alone for the additional two titles that have not appeared with English subs anywhere before, and surely it will feature extras not on the Criterion release.

This is one of a dozen or so films, where I have no problem at all paying three times for different releases (as long as each has something unique to offer). Sansho is absolutely priceless!

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Jean-Luc Garbo
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#11 Post by Jean-Luc Garbo » Fri Feb 16, 2007 7:20 pm

I'm glad that I held off on Ugetsu. I want this one instead!

Is there anyone here who prefers Sansho to Ugetsu?

Who is Jeffrey Angles?

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davida2
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#12 Post by davida2 » Fri Feb 16, 2007 7:21 pm

TheGodfather wrote:Will be getting this. Loved Ugetsu and I`m really interested in seeing more of Mizoguchi`s work.
Will be keeping an eye out of course for the MoC boxset...
Ditto. May is looking like a very expensive month; and Sansho is among my MOST hoped-for Criterions (I'd go for the MoC, but already have Ugetsu). We'll see on the extras...I'm curious to see what Tadao Sato has to say about Sansho, but I wonder if the LeFanu essay is excerpted from his book.

This is one of that handful of films that I think everyone should see at some point ... and yeah, I prefer Sansho to Ugetsu.

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#13 Post by JabbaTheSlut » Fri Feb 16, 2007 7:30 pm

I prefer both Sansho and Ugetsu to almost anything.

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gubbelsj
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#14 Post by gubbelsj » Fri Feb 16, 2007 7:37 pm

Jean-Luc Garbo wrote:Who is Jeffrey Angles?
Looks like he's an Assistant Professor of Japanese Literature & Language at Western Michigan University. It would appear he concentrates largely on poetry translation. I found an NPR interview with him from last September. Not too much suggests he's a film expert, but his class list looks largely devoted to literature interpretation and modern Japanese culture.

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Michael
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#15 Post by Michael » Fri Feb 16, 2007 7:37 pm

I'm glad that I held off on Ugetsu. I want this one instead! Is there anyone here who prefers Sansho to Ugetsu?
Not me. I'd get both. But if you put a gun to my head to pick ONE, then that would be UGETSU. Both films are equally staggeringly beautiful but it's the supernatural side of UGETSU that gets to me love it slightly more than the other. Supernatural makes everything spicier.

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#16 Post by Jean-Luc Garbo » Fri Feb 16, 2007 8:23 pm

Well, same here, Michael. I guess the Renoir and Watkins I've been watching of late really made me a bit more receptive to Criterion's description of Sansho. Does KM go the humanist route that Kurosawa takes or does he have his own take?

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Don Lope de Aguirre
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#17 Post by Don Lope de Aguirre » Fri Feb 16, 2007 9:09 pm

Does KM go the humanist route that Kurosawa takes or does he have his own take?
:shock: The two filmmakers -put simply- can not be compared! Kurosawa is often classified as a humanist (whatever this means...) but Mizoguchi is simply...Mizoguchi.

I think this says it all! Both in terms of answering your question and in implying who the great artist is...

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Jean-Luc Garbo
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#18 Post by Jean-Luc Garbo » Fri Feb 16, 2007 9:28 pm

I take it that I've compared Herzog to Fassbinder? At least you've got me intrigued considering that I've never heard anyone put Kurosawa lower than anyone else not even Ozu.

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#19 Post by Michael Kerpan » Fri Feb 16, 2007 10:00 pm

Mizoguchi is in my Japanese top 5 -- Kurosawa is no higher than no. 6. ;~}

I prefer Sansho to Ugetsu by a considerable margin. But I prefer Crucified Lovers to Sansho by almost the same margin. And there are several other Mizoguchi films I like as much as (or even more than) Sansho.

I feel I can sit back and wait on these releases -- as the French DVDs I have are more than adequate to live with until it becomes clearer as to whether I want to go with Criterion or MOC.

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#20 Post by FilmFanSea » Fri Feb 16, 2007 10:17 pm

While Kurosawa is certainly the most popular of the classic Japanese masters, it's fairly easy to find respected critics who prefer Mizoguchi (or Ozu, or both):

Senses of Cinema
MovieMaker Magazine (see Rivette quote)
Anthony Lane in the New Yorker
Cinematheque Ontario
Dave Kehr in the Chicago Reader

Kurosawa's apparent hegemony is partly due to the fact that Mizoguchi died in 1956--so his movies did not benefit from the additional 35+ years of international distribution and exposure that Kurosawa's enjoyed (capped by his honorary Academy Award in 1990). Further, Kurosawa's films appeared early and often in the DVD era (thanks largely to Criterion), while Mizoguchi's languished until relatively recently.

The more films I've seen by Ozu, Mizoguchi, and Naruse, the more I prefer those directors to Kurosawa, though I don't doubt that the latter was a great filmmaker.

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#21 Post by Le Samouraï » Sat Feb 17, 2007 7:27 am

The two filmmakers -put simply- can not be compared! Kurosawa is often classified as a humanist (whatever this means...) but Mizoguchi is simply...Mizoguchi.
Mizoguchi is a feminist :wink:

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Tommaso
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#22 Post by Tommaso » Sat Feb 17, 2007 10:08 am

Just in case you really want to miss out on the two extra films that will be in the MoC box set and get the CC instead, have a look at the small print in the 'About the transfer' section:

"The picture has been slightly window-boxed to ensure that the maximum image is visible on all monitors."

I guess that we really begin to face the problem that the Japanese obviously had with Kurosawa, namely, that he appears too 'western' stylewise. Not having known much about other Japanese directors in the past, we indeed tended to associate Kurosawa more or less exclusively with Japanese cinema. Now that has changed probably a little with the western release of lesser known directors in the past two years, Yamanaka and Naruse especially. And as hard as it was initially for me to appreciate their greatness, these films now indeed look more 'typical' Japanese for me, and if I want to watch a Japanese film, I tend to play their dvds (but also Shindo's or Shinoda's) more often than grab a Kurosawa film. Which of course is unfair to him, but perhaps to really appreciate Kuro's greatness, it would be better to compare his work with John Ford rather than with Mizoguchi or Naruse.

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#23 Post by GringoTex » Sat Feb 17, 2007 10:45 am

Tommaso wrote:I guess that we really begin to face the problem that the Japanese obviously had with Kurosawa, namely, that he appears too 'western' style-wise.
Is this really a problem that "the Japanese" had, or have the comments of one or two Japanese critics been attributed to the collective body? I know several Western film critics have made this claim (most influentially, Noel Burch), but I don't know anything about Japanese criticism.

I've also never understood the attribution to Ozu of a Japanese style at the expense of Kurosawa. If Ozu is so "Japanese," then why do no other Japanese films look like his? I see Kurosawa's influence all over Japanese cinema, but to my knowledge, Ozu remains a singular visionary.

(on a side note- Burch also claimed that post-war Mizoguchi became too "Western," a claim I plan to delve into when MOC releases more of his postwar films)

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#24 Post by ellipsis7 » Sat Feb 17, 2007 11:00 am

That argument advanced by Burch that Ozu was immune to outside influences until after WWII, and thus is most pure of Japanese directors, simply does not hold up... Watch the films and read Bordwell's OZU AND THE POETICS OF CINEMA or Desser's TOKYO STORY (ed.), and for a Japanese viewpoint Yoshida Kiju's OZU'S ANTI CINEMA (Eng lang version pub U Michigan Center for Japanese studies)...

Ozu was aware and influenced by American and European cinema, but he metamorphosed this through his own stylistic sensibilities, to produce uniquely Ozu-like films... Take DRAGNET GIRL, his gangster film, a very modernistic silent thriller from 1933, it's climactic sequence feature something unique in Ozu's entire oeuvre of some 55 films - a gunshot, the only one he ever recorded...

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Michael Kerpan
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#25 Post by Michael Kerpan » Sat Feb 17, 2007 12:08 pm

Ozu was at least as much a Hollywood-inspired director as Kurosawa -- as were all his colleagues at the Tokyo Shochiku studios (including Naruse -- who gotr his start there). The making of Hollywood-like films was, in fact, one of the major goals of this studio, as it set out to rebuild after the Tokyo earthquake in the early 20s.

Yamanaka was, if anything, even more fanatic a devotee of Hollywood cinema than Ozu -- and he helped pioneer introducing Western influences (filtered in part through Ozu) into Japanese historical movie-making.

I don't believe the "Kurosawa is too Western" criticism began (in Japan) until quite late in his career -- and never was a ssignificant there as it was with certain Western critics.

Burch's theories (like those of many other Western critics) show a profound lack of knowledge about what the movie industry of 1920-1950s Japan was actually doing.

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