The Thirteen Steps

Director: Masahiko Nagasawa
Screenwriters: Tadashi Morishita

Institute History

  • 2003 Sundance Film Festival


Combining thriller and melodrama, The Thirteen Steps looks at murder from three angles as three men, all suffering the agony of guilt, take a literal and emotional journey through the depths of despair.

Nango, played with quiet dignity by Tsutomu Yamazaki, has worked for many years as a prison guard. His stone-still face almost hides the burden that lurks just beneath his calm exterior. Young Mikami (Takashi Sorimachi) has nearly completed his three-year sentence for accidentally killing a man in what appeared to be a nightclub brawl. But Nango recognizes in Mikami a fellow troubled soul. Shortly after Mikami's release, Nango offers him a chance to share in a lucrative reward if they can clear an innocent prisoner's name and find the real criminal. The search for a flight of steps and a dark temple lead the story to its dramatic conclusion.

Using the mystery-to-be-solved as a unifying structure and locations that reflect the characters' inner states, Masahiko Nagasawa raises provocative questions about the death penalty as the three men learn that, regardless of how you are judged by others, you must ultimately come to terms with yourself and find forgiveness within.

— Linda Allen

Screening Details

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