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Sansho the Bailiff (1954)
"Sanshô dayû" (original title)

Not Rated  |   |  Drama  |  1955 (USA)
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Ratings: 8.4/10 from 9,500 users  
Reviews: 42 user | 66 critic

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.



(short story "Sanshô dayû"), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Title: Sansho the Bailiff (1954)

Sansho the Bailiff (1954) on IMDb 8.4/10

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Yoshiaki Hanayagi ...
Kyôko Kagawa ...
Eitarô Shindô ...
Sanshô dayû
Akitake Kôno ...
Masao Shimizu ...
Masauji Taira
Ken Mitsuda ...
Prime Minister Fujiwara
Kazukimi Okuni ...
Yôko Kosono ...
Kimiko Tachibana ...
Ichirô Sugai ...
Minister of Justice
Teruko Ômi ...
Masahiko Kato ...
Young Zushio
Keiko Enami ...
Young Anju
Bontarô Akemi ...


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 <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A film of unparalleled beauty by the great Japanese Master Kenji Mizoguchi




Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

1955 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Legend of Bailiff Sansho  »

Filming Locations:

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


'Kenji Mizoguchi' left the composer alone to do the music. He also did that before in his previous films Ugetsu Monogatari as much as Chikamatsu Monogatari. See more »


Taro: [to Zushio] I found that humans have little sympathy for things that don't directly concern them. They're ruthless. Unless those hearts can be changed, the world you dream of cannot come true. If you wish to live honestly with your conscience, keep close to the Buddha.
See more »


Referenced in Gossip Girl: The Empire Strikes Jack (2010) See more »

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User Reviews

exceptionally sad tale of the evils of medieval Japanese society
8 July 2005 | by (Bradenton, Florida) – See all my reviews

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.

13 of 20 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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