Tag Archives: stately imagery

Film Favorites: Sansho the Bailiff


Kenji Mizoguchi, Japan’s master filmic fable-maker, has only recently re-emerged in the Western world as a living, breathing entity after years of seeming abandonment to the history books. This is all the more curious because, barring Kurosawa’s Rashomon, he was the Western world’s first introduction to Japanese cinema and by far the most popular Japanese director internationally at the time (yes, more popular than Kurosawa). And yet he was almost swept away on the currents of forgotten time. Pity, and indeed ironic, because of the three acknowledged masters of Japanese cinema (Ozu, Kurosawa, Mizoguchi), his films are by far the most timeless. While Ozu dealt in eerily impressionist and heartbreaking depictions of his present-day Japan, and Kurosawa brought down the hammer with classical themes rendered bigger than life, Mizoguchi’s films were haunting, elegiac statements of dread that nonetheless discovered an eternal humanity and respect for all humans in elevating their shared depression to mythic status. Continue reading