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In mediaeval Japan a compassionate governor is sent into exile. His wife and children try to join him, but are separated, and the children grow up amid suffering and oppression. Written by
David Levene <D.S.Levene@durham.ac.uk>
'Kenji Mizoguchi' initially intended to center the film around Sansho, the Slavelord. However, the film ended up with the sad story of Zushio and Anju as its narrative, dramatic center. See more »
[Speaking to his son Zushio on the verge of being exiled and separated from his family]
Zushio, I wonder if you'll become a stubborn man like me. You may be too young to understand, but hear me out anyway. Without mercy, man is like a beast. Even if you are hard on yourself, be merciful to others. Men are created equal. Everyone is entitled to their happiness.
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exceptionally sad tale of the evils of medieval Japanese society
The story begins with the governor of a province being stripped of his position because he was too kind and thought foremost about the welfare of his people. This would upset the terror and repression used to control the people! His family is cast out of the land and it's unknown what the exact fate was of the kind governor. Not too long after that, the family is torn apart by bandits and the 13 and 8 year-old children are sold into slavery. Their mother, unknown to them, if forced into prostitution. Now if the movie only wallowed in this misery, I would have no doubt hated it. However, what is interesting is what the boy does 10 later when he finally escapes his slave master. His actions and his subsequent attempts to find his family make the movie well worth seeing. Yes, it is quite depressing but there are some good moments as well and the story kept my attention throughout.
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