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This text looks at Kenji Mizoguchi's film Sansho Dayu, a version of a famous Japanese folk-tale about an eleventth century feudal official forced into exile by his political enemies. In his absence, his children fall under the corrupting influence of the malevolent Sansho.
Paperback, 79 pages
Published March 27th 2000 by British Film Institute
(first published December 1st 1999)
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Unlike most of the BFI Film Classics series, this volume, on Mizoguchi's 1954 film, consists of two separate essays by the two authors; the first, by Cavanaugh, deals with the Japanese context of the film and its relationship to the original legend and the novel by Mori gai, and the second by Andrew deals with the technical aspects of the film and its reception in the West. It had worthwhile information. I watched the film on you-tube before reading the book; very powerful. ...more
I follwed the film up by reading Dudely Andrew and Carole Cavanaugh's BFI Film Classic book Sansho Dayu. This informative book discusses the making of the film and the differences between Mizoguchi's film and Mori Ogai's original version. One of the interesting changes Mizoguch made was changing the Jizo statue (protector of children), from Ogai's version with a kannon statue (Bodhisattva of compassion) in the film. Mizoguch also changes several other details like the ages of the children and th ...more
Sometimes my film viewing experiences are so profound that reading up on the film later actually detracts from the sense of ignorant wonder I had while watching. This is one of those cases. The history of the Sansho tale in Japanese tradition and its refashioning twice in the modern era (just before and right after Japan's disastrous nationalist period) was really interesting all the same.
Dudley Andrew is a Professor of Film and Comparative Literature at Yale University.More about Dudley Andrew...