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Time Out saysA humane provincial governor in 11th century Japan is forced into exile by his political opponents, and the members of his family (wife, son and daughter) fall victim to all the cruelties of the period while on their way to join him. Mizoguchi views this deliberately simple story (in Japan it is known as a folk-tale) from two perspectives at once: from the inside, as an overwhelmingly moving account of a man (the son) facing up to his own capacity for barbarism; and from the outside, as an infinitely tender meditation on history and individual fate. The twin perspectives yield a film that is both impassioned and elegiac, dynamic in its sense of the social struggle and the moral options, and yet also achingly remote in its fragile beauty. The result is even more remarkable than it sounds.