Based on an ancient legend, Sansho Dayu is both distinctly Japanese and as deeply affecting as Greek tragedy. Described in its opening titles as "one of the world's great folk tales, full of grief", Mizoguchi depicts an unforgettably sad story of social injustice, family love, personal sacrifice, and fateful tragedy. In Heian era (11th Century) Japan, an aristocratic woman, Tamaki (Tanaka Kinuyo), and her two children, Zushio (Hanayagi Yoshiaki) and Anju (Kagawa Kyoko), are separated by feudal tyranny from Tamaki's husband. When the children are kidnapped and sold into slavery to Sanshuo (Shindo Eitaro), the lives of each of the family members follow very different paths - each course uniquely, and insufferably, tragic. Famed for its period reconstructions and powerful imagery, often through the director's trademark long takes, Sansho Dayu is one of the most critically revered of all Mizoguchi;s films, and a classic of world cinema, often cropping up in lists of the greatest films ever made. The Masters Of Cinema Series is proud to present Sansho Dayu together with Mizoguchi's lesser-known feature Gion Bayashi - landmark films of exquisite tone and purity of emotion.