Dersu Uzala (1975)


Cause he loves nature is why
Cause he loves nature is why

Genre: Adventure Drama (Japan, Soviet Union)

Starring: Maksim Munzuk, Yuri Solomin

Directed By: Akira Kurosawa (RashomonSeven Samurai)

Overview: A Russian Army Captain befriends a Nanai and uses him as a guide during an exploration expedition. Years later, when he returns to the forest to continue its exploration, he finds in Dersu Uzala a true bond of friendship.

A Russian and his Bear... and a Kodiak
A Russian and his Bear... and a Kodiak

Kurosawa was having a rough time with life before he joined the Russians in this joint venture called Dersu Uzala, but it could easily be said that this tale of true friendship is a wonderful parallel to The Emperor's own life at this juncture.

In the film we find an old and humble Asian wanderer speaking broken Russian. While he hunts, he meets an established Russian military captain exploring the Asian's domain who decides to use his services as a guide. Compare the life imitating art behind it all: a somewhat lost and post-suicidal Kurosawa being given the opportunity to have an established Russian film company hire him to make his movie - a collaboration Kurosawa had never done.

The Emperor wrote of a friendship built between strangers, where trials and tribulations included humour, danger and hard work. The most impressive themes are those of cultural acceptance, humility and loyalty.

Why man live in box? -Dersu Ulaza, when visiting the city

I'm not much one for nature-focussed films like this one, but Dersu Uzala impressed me by setting dramatic tales in nature, rather than making is about nature. As it was with Deliverance, nature played an integral part in making the film's plot, rather than being the primary focus.

When an image is this easy to mock, it's just not worth it...
When an image is this easy to mock, it's just not worth it...

Performance: 9 Cinematography: 9 Script: 8 Plot: 8 Mood: 8

Overall Rating: 84% (Nature à la Awesome)

Akira Kurosawa writes his own films. That makes it easy for him to make a film about a subject that matters to him at that particular point in time in his life. Where Scandal was his war against tabloid media, Dersu Uzala is the flip side of his rage, a sincere thank you to those who gave Akira another chance to become productive. Much like his character's trek through the wilderness with the help of a foreign stranger, Kurosawa made it through a dark time with the friendship of a Russian film company that allowed his film to flourish and receive the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1976.

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