One of the greatest of Kenji Mizoguchi’s films, Sansho the Bailiff (Sanshô Dayû) is also one of the greatest works of the cinema. The story of a family’s quiet endurance as it is split up and its members are sold into slavery and prostitution in 11th-century Japan is very delicately balanced between tenderness and remove. Sansho the Bailiff “moves from easy poetry to difficult poetry,” wrote Roger Greenspun when the film had its belated New York premiere in 1969. “Its impulses, which are profound but not transcendental, follow an aesthetic program that is also a moral progression, and that emerges, with superb lucidity, only from the greatest art.” A Janus Films release.
Restored by KADOKAWA Corporation and The Film Foundation at Cineric, Inc. in New York with sound by Audio Mechanics, with the cooperation of The Japan Foundation. Special thanks to Masahiro Miyajima and Martin Scorsese for their consultation.