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Sansho the Bailiff (1954)

Sanshô dayû (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama | 1955 (USA)
In Medieval 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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1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »
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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 <D.S.Levene@durham.ac.uk>

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  »

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Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider. 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.
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Referenced in Water (2005) See more »

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User Reviews

Geeky Randy's summary
18 July 2014 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Beautifully shot tragedy about a brother and sister taken from privilege and sold into slavery, and their journey of loss, redemption and sacrifice. Rightly a classic, but is perhaps a little too quick paced for its own good; director Mizoguchi wanted to focus more on the title character and slavery, but ended up getting overruled into focusing on a broken family piecing their lives back together. There is just too much beauty in the setting and tone for a critic to pry at what might be missing. The black-and-white not only sets the mood, but is visually stunning, as if each scene is a moving photograph—particularly when the family is traveling through fields of miscanthus sinensis (Chinese silver grass).

***½ (out of four)

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