Even If You Think You're Ready For "Sansho", You're Not

It's fitting (though probably coincidental) that Criterion release its Blu-Ray edition of Sansho The Bailiff in the season of Tarantino's Django Unchained; both are concerned intimately with the institution of slavery and the revenge enacted because of it. But where Django is animated by rage, Sansho is far more somber, more plainspoken, and far less convinced that any sort of resolution is possible. It's probably impossible for an observer to say which film 'gets' slavery better, but it goes almost without saying that Sansho makes you feel it more, making clear the human cost of slavery as no other film ever has. Where the study of history itself falls short in sharing the spiritual and moral burden of those in bondage, Sansho The Bailiff does not.

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