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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gion Bayashi is no mere filler either,
26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Life-changing experience,
Sansho Dayu is easily one of the best films ever made, and we are incredibly lucky that it has finally been released by Masters of Cinema, the best producers of DVDs in this country (along with the BFI, perhaps). In some ways, this is an even better edition than the one Criterion released in America back in May.
You will never forget the first time you see this film; words can't begin to do justice to its visual beauty and its emotional impact. It stands comparison with the best films of Kurosawa and Ozu - with the best films of any director, come to that. Coupled with the almost equally marvellous (though smaller in scale) Gion Bayashi, this is a must-own DVD set for any self-respecting film buff. It is worth at least twice as much as Amazon are currently charging for it.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The two sides of Mizoguchi's filmography,
The second film, less known but undeservedly so, Gion Bayashi is completely different being a modern (1954) story set in the world of geishas. Geisha films were very popular at the time because of the change in legislation regarding prostitution in Japan and filmmakers like Naruse and Mizoguchi have used the background to show the contrast between the old and new Japan. It is the story of two women, a geisha in her thirties and a young 16 old girl who wishes to become the pupil of the elder woman and a wonderful love story.
The set is accompanied by a detailed booklet including an interview with Mizoguchi. If you want to find out more about this intriguing and versatile filmmaker I would heartily recommend this set.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply a Masterpiece,
This review is from: Sansho Dayu [Masters of Cinema] (Dual Format Edition) [Blu-ray]  (Blu-ray)Sansho Dayu is (along with Ugetsu Monogatari,) quite simply a masterpiece of Japanese (and indeed world) cinema. Sansho Dayu (and Ugetsu Monogatari) are frequently top (or near the top) of serious critics' lists of the best movies of all time. This movie is the tale of the sad fate of a brother and sister following the murder of their father and separation from their mother.
Mizoguchi is one of the gods of Japanese cinema; Ozu poignantly depicted the distances between generations and the changing face of the family in 20th century Japan but the principle concern of Kenji Mizoguchi was how women have suffered in a male-dominated society throughout Japanese history. This heartfelt theme was almost certainly instigated by his father's brutal treatment of Mizoguchi's mother and sisters and the eventual selling of his older sister into the life of a geisha. Often in his films women suffer terribly as a result of inflexible social rules and hierarchies. Watching them, however, is continuously rewarding. This movie is poignant and tragic but it is not depressing to watch; here is a director at the top of his game.
Part of what makes these movies so outstanding is Mizoguchi's artistic use of the camera with perfect composition, framing and meticulously executed long takes. Watching this movie is a reminder of how, for many of us, black and white film has a quality which is essentially cinematic and part of the enjoyment of the experience. Mizoguchi's use of lighting and composition shares all the luminous formal beauty of Japanese art.
And then there is the story itself, with its unforgettable final scene.
An essential blu-ray for the genuine cinema fan.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Shakespearian-style masterpiece.,
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Total Concentration,
This review is from: Sansho Dayu [Masters of Cinema] (Dual Format Edition) [Blu-ray]  (Blu-ray)I did't know what I was expecting when I placed this black and white Japanese film, made under the American Occupation in the 1950's into the DVD slot. The first few frames set the scene; the old fashioned huts, then it slipped into a sense of high moral tone of father instructing children in the need to be good, or so I thought. On reflection I think I was ready for a strong propaganda film about filial piety and the need to respect elders and then watch the scenery. The type of values known as the Eastern Way based on Confucius.
But far from it, after the good father upholds moral decency within his kingdom, he suddenly suffers the perennial blows of misfortune and is carted off for helping the poor and destitute. The fate of his misfortune then tumbles forward, not just onto him, but his wife and children who are also branded with taint.
The morality within this film is not Nebraska/Kansas/Ohio but something much more brutal and disgusting, the destruction of human beings as they are ground into objects. Within the dialogue lies a seething resentment, directed at social class, ripping apart the feudal bureaucratic bonds that tied people together within hierarchies of pure naked oppression. Whilst the Americans did not want a Japanese revival based on a feudal identity, this slipped past the censors plying for a Communist escape from bondage by highlighting sheer degradation of entrapment.
After a series of vignettes concerned with trusting in others and being lied to, we are finally led into the interior of a slave camp. Nowhere have I seen slavery depicted with such an honest sense of overpowering brutality and pungent despair. The film weeps with utter entrapment and a childhood life completely stultified. Hope kindles as a small flame but is forever burning within a howling wind. Love between siblings, parents and the connections to others becomes one form of carrying on calmly, as does adapting to the the social milieu which whips into the bodies with its sheer will to power.
Shot with another form of artistic sensibility, this carries the same sense of hopelessness as Lean's "Great Expectations," but whereas Dickens could play to the gallery in the mid west of America, this just opens the bolted trapdoor on an existential wilderness to open itself to reveal an ever hurtling soundless universe.
An absolute stunning film which will leave the viewer numbed by the end with raw edged nerves, shredded finely as a bleak desolate form of emotional reality, this is finally screamed into view, offering an analogy to surviving Oranienburg, Dachau, Treblinka, or Mauthaussen.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Arguably the greatest film ever made,
When I remember the wise, profoundly moving, visually beautiful "Sansho Dayu", I have to weep, as I did when I first saw this film in the cinema, and on the two occasions that I have seen it since. Yes, it is tragic in the true sense of the word, filled (like "King Lear") with instances of the cruelty and brutality of man to man. Yet one leaves the cinema (or turns off the television) changed and enriched by the compassion and wisdom of this film.
The greatest film ever made? I don't know, although I can think of only a handful of others that approach it. But if only a single film from the entire history of the cinema could be preserved for future generations, this is the one I would choose.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Without mercy people are like wild beasts",
There're also other great values except perfect form in this movie. One of them (and maybe the most important) is deep humanism and optimism in spite of sad image of the world. 'Without mercy people are like wild beasts' - learns little Zushio from his father. Following these words he'll find his point finally.
Yes, 'Sansho Dayu' is beautyfull and wise movie. I've it on VHS and I'll probably buy DVD when be relased. I hope it'll be on DVD as soon as posible because is very worth of the highest quality transfer.
5.0 out of 5 stars Blu-Ray,
This review is from: Sansho Dayu [Masters of Cinema] (Dual Format Edition) [Blu-ray]  (Blu-ray)I don't think it's necessary to review the movie itself here as Sansho Dayu is one of the most celebrated out there. Gion Bayashi (Gion Festival Music, aka A Geisha) is also included here in HD, but it's no merely a bonus. In my opinion the 1953 movie ranks just a bit below its famous follower.
Not having these two, it's a fantastic purchase. Bonus features only include some photo galleries and short but insightful review by some japanese-cinema-crazy critic.
The picture quality could be better, I suppose. White, twinkling stripes are visible most of the time, yet everything is sharp and focused. I can't say if this could've been done better, but after all, it's not a Hollywood blockbuster.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Best Films Ever Made,
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Sansho Dayu [Masters of Cinema] (Dual Format Edition) [Blu-ray]  by Kenji MIZOGUCHI (Blu-ray - 2012)