If no, then does this not make it the greatest film ever made?
Speak now, or forever hold your peace.
I’m not prepared to talk about this now (as I haven’t seen the film in a while), but I’m not sure I completely agree with the notion that not uttering a bad word is equal to saying it’s the greatest film ever made.
they all get moderated.
How could anyone? And why would anyone?
Well, I agree Jazz, that this alone does not make it the greatest, but surely among film buffs that have seen it, Sansho is considered a masterpiece, no? Surely anyone who has seen it would put it in the top 50, and furthermore, I don’t know of any argument that could be made that says that it does not belong in the top 50 or top 10. I’m not sure if there are any other films in which no argument can be made to say that it is not one of the twenty best ever made…
A superb film but not my favourite Mizoguchi. It tails off in intensity in its later part although the ending is magnificent.
Life of O haru and Story of the Late Chrysanthemums seem to me to sustain their momentum in every shot and I’d rate them even higher.
This being said Sansho Dayu was probably the first Mizoguchi I saw and it’a fine starter for anyone new to this demanding director. There are others whose vision of the world can exert a greater fascination-Bunuel, Tarkovsky, Welles for instance, but nobody else achieves in his best work such a sense of absolute rightness with every shot.
A perfect film (one of the very, very few).
The physical disparity between young and adult Zushio could be considered a fault. If we’re looking to nit pick. Can artistic perfection exist? Is perfection lack of faults or every choice being the best possible? I agree, in Sansho things do seem right. Sansho didn’t even make the top 100 Japanese films in a recent Kinema Junpo poll in Japan- from the same year, Chikamatsu Monogatari has tended to be regarded slightly more highly, though at least the great critic Sato Tadao rates it among the peaks of cinema. As with the Oscars, Kinema Junpo’s own rankings and reaction at the time still carry some weight. Mizoguchi and his screenwriter Yoda both rated Oharu his best. But for once some of us know better! Of course it’s the film that made me an instant Mizoguchi fan. I would like to hear what people less enamoured of the film think- their reservations. There are even quite a few 1 star ratings at imdb, but nothing is sacred. I find such things extraordinary but maybe they couldn’t cope with subtitles or wanted fast action from the off. Dark Knight it’s not
I was not sure about Tadao Sato’s appreciation of Sansho, so I checked the list of best Mizoguchi’s films according to Sato: Yes, Sansho is here, although he usually name The Story of the Last Chrysanthemum or Oharu as his greatest works.
Mizoguchi’s greatest films according to Tadao Sato:
The Water Magician (1933)
Osaka Elegy (1936)
The Story of the Last Chrysanthemum (1939)
The 47 Ronin (1941)
Miss Oyu (1951)
The Life of Oharu (1952)
A Geisha (1953)
Sansho the Bailiff (1954)
The Crucified Lovers (1954)
Sansho was one spot away from making my Mubi Sight and Sound Poll top 10. I’m going to have to fall in the masterpiece camp as well.
Some might find the portrayal of downtrodden women who are subservient to men with a need to sacrifice themselves as being out of line with contemporary gender ideals, or are altogether turned off by stories about the ‘plight of the geisha’. I’ve never read this anywhere and do consider the film a favourite and a masterpiece of storytelling. I have imagined similar and possibly false criticisms of Ozu and Naruse as conservatives, when that impression is more likely to have come from a misinterpretation of cultural differences.
(one of the very, very few).
Although I love Sansho quite a lot and it’s hardly on my top 3 Mizoguchi, I’d have to say the above statement is completely false.
Surely anyone who has seen it would put it in the top 50
Not from where I stand. Not even in the top 100 or 500. (in my opinion)
I’d love to see a list of the 500 films that are superior to Sansho the Bailiff.
I’d be glad to but you somehow rejected the Romanian cinematography by spitting on 4 Months, so I highly doubt if I can persuade you that at least 10 Romanian diamonds I’ve watched surpass Sansho on my favorites list.
Wow, i sure look forward to those 10 Romanian diamonds!
Dimitris, you really bring the Lulz, and you never fail.
It’s not even in my top five Mizoguchi but a great film indeed.
Give us the names of those ten Romanian films, and I promise you I will watch at least one or two of them.
The above mentioned Sato Tadao has pointed out that historically Sansho isn’t fully convincing, with the role and character of the humane governor (though i’’d say it goes well beyond history, as a popular folk tale that passes into a timeless almost transcendental place) but i assume Angel will take my word he’s given the film plenty of praise without my having to dig out quotes.
That it is a masterpiece and not his best film, well go from there.
Dimitris doesn’t make lists; it’s a policy of his.
I haven’t seen every Mizo that I’d like to (hopefully this will change when Criterion releases a bunch on Hulu Plus), but Sansho the Bailiff is the best of what I’ve seen, which includes a 35mm screening of The Story of Late Chrysanthemums
Some people find the film depressing and i’ve heard a couple of mutterings against Hanayaki Yoshiaki’s performance as Zushio, which surprised me. Maybe Mizoguchi’s films overall have stronger female performances, but he was fine by me. Some critics prefer the greater political bite of some earlier Mizoguchi films, seeing a softening towards Buddhist acceptance, though again a case can be made for the film having revolutionary as well as humane values.
Where did I say that it’s a “policy” of mine?
Late Chrysanthemums for me and Ugetsu are bigger Mizoguchi favorites. Street of Shame would be behind Sansho by a short margin and Crucified Lovers by half a star, Oharu as number 3. I will be watching all of his available work but as Doinel said, it’s not insulting to Sansho if one says it’s a damn masterpiece but not one’s top Mizoguchi.
I’ll give any names I have to Balder but two glaring choices I’d recommend that leave Sansho way way behind (if I were to rank my favorites) are Forest of the Hanged and Stone Wedding.
What is the meaning of Lulz? I’m not sure this is the English language I know of, is it an American idiom?
Has American English turned into a wasteland of ironies and slangs nowadays?
Ah ha, Stone Wedding and Forest of the Hanged- i was expecting them as your first two! Great stuff but well, my heart is with Sansho. Look for one of them to come in Nino Starr’s "The Kenji Project (i haven’t forgotten the Balkans).
American English; woe betide us at school if we said “around” (should be either “round” or “about”). Just why can’t they speak English? All this elevator, pants and flavor nonsense. Pants are worn underneath. Lighted should be lit, it’s led not lead, ageing not aging. I’ll have to watch that slippery slope. Stockings not panty hose or whatever the word is. Stockings are sexier anyway. The Yanks have the numbers on their side, but might does not = right.
Sansho is one I saw just last year and it’s one of the very best films I’ve ever seen. It’s greater to me than even the five-star Chrysanthemums, though we’re talking about a matter of degrees.
Oh Kenji, I also have 2-3 Nicolaescu films but I’m saving their identity for the upcoming DC matches, although one of them is as glaring (and even more) as those two. I just wanted to promote the original World Cup we had since that’s where I showcased Forest of the Hanged for the first time.
I was wondering about Lulz too.
“Beginning as a plural variant of lol, Lulz was originally an exclamation but is now often used as a noun meaning interesting or funny internet content.
Lol → lul; lols → luls; lolz → lulz.
Lulz is the one good reason to do anything, from trolling to rape. After every action taken, you must make the epilogic dubious disclaimer: “I did it for the lulz”.
This has been pioneered by encyclopedia dramatica, famous for posting a fake craigslist add and then listing the personal info of those who responded.
“Why did he post a suicide note on livejournal before killing himself?” “I hear he did it for the lulz.”
I don’t like these modern internet ways of speaking.
Kenji—Have you read David Foster Wallace’s essay on Prescriptive vs. Descriptive grammar? It’s in Consider the Lobster.
Kenji, I take your word for it, ha ha. Even so, it’s not a top choice for Japanese critics…