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Dersu Uzala

By Tom Keogh

During an unusual chapter in the career of director Akira Kurosawa (Rashomon), the filmmaker went to Russia because he found working in his native Japan to be too difficult. The result was this striking 1975 near-epic based on the turn-of-the-century autobiographical novels of a military explorer (Yuri Solomin) who met and befriended a Goldi man in Russia's unmapped forests. Kurosawa traces the evolution of a deep and abiding bond between the two men, one civilized in the usual sense, the other at home in the sub-zero Siberian woods. There's no question that Dersu Uzala (the film is named for the Goldi character, played by Maxim Munzuk) has the muscular, imaginative look of a large-canvas Soviet Mosfilm from the 1970s. But in its energy and insight it is absolutely Kurosawa, from its implicit fascination with the meeting of opposite worlds to certain moments of tranquility and visual splendor. But nothing looks like Kurosawa more than a magnificent action sequence in which the co-heroes fight against time and exhaustion to stay alive in a wicked snowstorm. For fans of the late legend, this is a Kurosawa not to be missed.

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"Dersu Uzala has been my cult film since I first watched it by pure chance on a stormy night in Rome in the Super70s. In that real story I found a kind of Tolstoian message and a conviction of the superiority of natural men on so-called civilized people. For instance the fact that Dersu's death is indirectly caused by the gun presented to the old hunter by Captain Arseniev as a farewell token of friendship seems to me peculiarly relevant. In the same way there is a fine message of authenticity, nobleness and respect for the true human values. We are very far from present New Age pseudo natural fake."

--Claude

 

FILM FACTS

Buy this VHS movie from Amazon.com! (Click here!)Buy this DVD from Amazon.com! (Click here!)Soundtrack unavailable at Amazon.com - try eBay (see links below)Rated GNot on an American Film Institute 100 list

Director: Akira Kurosawa

Stars: Maksim Munzuk, Yuri Solomin

Released: December 30, 1975

Availability: DVD VHS


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