Dersu Uzala Reviews

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Super Reviewer
January 29, 2007
the ultimate man vs. wild. bear grills has nothing on dersu uzala. another of the many absolute masterpieces by kurosawa, this film is possibly the best man vs. nature film ever made. tragedy makes the man that becomes so great that the world will no longer accept him. amazing on every front.
Super Reviewer
½ February 19, 2007
Simple but powerful. Captain Arseniev is looking for a grave on a construction site in 1910. Flashback to 1902 when he and a group of soldiers are on a mission to map out the wilderness between Russia and China. The soldiers are a rowdy bunch. A hunter comes upon the soldiers speaking kind of broken Russian. The Captain welcomes him and offers him food. Thus begins the friendship of the Capitan and Dersu Uzala. Dersu is Gonli, or Mongolian. He has lost his family and lives in the woods moving from temporary shelter to shelter. The soldiers come to respect Dersu's tracking skills, his concern for all the "men" who live in the forest, and his skill with a rifle. The Capitan especially gains great admiration for Dersu's survival skills and spirituality. The wind, water, fire, sun, moon, plants, and animals are all "men" deserving of the same respect and concern as human men of whatever race. Through the seasons, two expeditions with different sets of men, and obstacles like getting lost on a frozen tundra, being washed down rapids, and facing a tiger the bond between the Capitan and Dersu is strengthened. Dersu has a beautiful understanding of the environment and also a joyful sense of humor. There are lots of wise quotes. The plot is slowly paced, but keeps a good steady rhythm. The images of nature through all the seasons are often breathtaking. Dersu is much older than the Capitan. He has so much knowledge, but when his eyesight begins to go what is a hunter supposed to do? The third act has Captain Arseniev with his wife and son welcoming Dersu to his house in the city. For a man who has lived his whole life in the hills the city is too constricting despite the still close bond between the two men. Kurosawa realistically immerses the audience in the story's time and place, but more importantly develops this magnificent friendship.
Super Reviewer
½ March 4, 2008
Great story, well told.
August 1, 2009
I think this is among his best work, but I don't hear it talked about as much as some other things. Maybe, it's just my Siberia love.
½ December 23, 2006
Has Akira Kurosawa done any other movies in Russian? unforgetable story of the friendship between a russian captian and a Mongolian hunter nomad.
½ October 5, 2007
Kurosawa takes his landmark film making out of Japan and into Russia to show us a Goldi woodsman name Dersu form a beautiful and true friendship with a Russian explorer. The development of the two is personal and touching, and it reaches deeply. Kurosawa paints the wilderness like a portrait, with beauty in each perfectly framed shot. Although the movie lags at a few points, it remains beautiful by almost any standard.
May 23, 2007
If you ever want to experience living in the wilderness just watch this movie. It's just amazing to think of what it took to make this film
December 13, 2006
One of my five top favorite films from one of my top five directors. Too powerful a story of relationship and existence to characterize. Watch it yourself.
March 28, 2015
It's nice seeing Kurosawa movies in color. I found the story quiet and touching.
½ April 26, 2014
I'm shocked and mortified to learn this film actually won Best Foreign Language film in 1975!
April 14, 2014
Another masterpiece by Akira Kurosawa.
July 28, 2013
The only movie Kurosawa made outside Japan ("Dersu Uzala" was shot in the U.S.S.R.), this is something of an oddball in the director's catalog. The 1975 Oscar winner for best foreign language film is a lovable story that will please anyone who gives it the time.
June 21, 2013
Best things - Dersu's intro, his first couple of trivia, when captain and Dersu meet again, also the first goodbye, they way they have shot sun.

Worst things - pace is slow, doesn't build up. End sort of unresolved.
May 23, 2013
This is one world-class piece of work desperately in the waiting line for a BluRay revamp, watched this Kurosawa's Soviet Union film in DVD format, the quality is discouraging, but the film speaks for itself in shedding bells and whistles and homing in on a camaraderie between a Soviet military explorer and a seasoned local hunter among the bleak Ussuri inhospitable region.

Storyline-aside, it is another Kurosawa's awesome visual spectacle, a tremendous field shooting endeavor, epitomizes by the sun-moon co-existence with solemn placidness, furthermore, it is a hymn to mother nature, Dersu personifies as the harmonious co-habitant of the mighty wilderness, a sublime soul with well-versed survival skills, on the contrary to my recent watched documentary TOUCHING THE VOID (2003, 8/10), DERSU UZALA owns a purer and more admirable prospect, instead of conquering the insurmountable to chase a spur of glory and invincibility, it is far more intrepid and unpretentious to be a part of it with reverence and be respectful to its law and act, in addition to its indefatigable undertone against industrialized modernism (it is the brand-new rifle, a token of friendship, actually wreaks the somber demise of Dersu).

Strictly speaking, there is merely two characters in the film, Dersu (Munzuk) and the Russian Captain (Solomin), a bond is tenably formed through their expedition in the wild, from lush jungle to walking-on-the-thin-ice frozen river, the life-saving bravado during a squalling night when they lost their track on a snow land or a torrent peril, Kurosawa moulds a great range of topography with taut excitement where it is required. The character study of Dersu also is been executed through the observation and the interaction from Captain (viewers' proxy), who is enthralled by Dersu's simple yet ethereal nature, a rare bird may or may not be extinct now. The dual-acting from Munzuk and Solomin is the fruit of naturalistic emancipation and unassuming engagement.

Also a memorable presence is Isaak Shvarts's accompanying score segues from lithe to menacing, eerie to sonorous, with Russian folklore and shanty as well.

Being a Chinese, I cannot avoid mentioning the sensitive timing (after China and Japan's rapprochement in 1972 and China and Soviet Union's dispute in 1969) of the film-making, which prompted an accusation from Chinese government concerns a so-called political libel on Chinese people, mainly by vilifying Hunhutsi (which literally means red beard in Mandarin) as the villain and the nature-balance defier. But honestly, this episode is largely overstated since there is no direct confrontation at all in the film, at least for my compatriots, don't let this smokescreen blinds your eyes, DERSU UZALA is a spirited ethnological oeuvre could inspire whoever has a chance to watch it, preferably on a big screen or at least a BluRay edition.
January 29, 2013
Though the film is classy and adventurous, it is too full of cliches and easy philosophy to be even considered among Kurosawa's most interesting works.
November 2, 2012
i watched this years ago and it was great movie
August 23, 2012
A study in humanity. The scene collecting the grass is awakening.
½ August 5, 2012
This is Kurosawa's first film after his attempted suicide. A project that he had on the back burner for decades, he finally got to make it as a Russian/Japanese co-production. The results are mixed in my opinion, but it gave Kurosawa a much needed boost that allowed him to go on to make a final few masterpieces in the twilight of his career.

There isn't much of a plot. Really only vignettes of this man born and raised in the wilderness guiding Russian surveyors in the wilderness and how his view of life differs from his companions. For 2.5 hours, a philosophical back and forth isn't all that compelling (had to finish this in two sittings). The tragic end of the story picks up a lot more though and gives a suitably reverent and appropriate closing to the story.

Although this was filmed in 70mm and Kurosawa's second color picture, the transfer on the DVD is terrible and doesn't do the sweeping landscapes and forests any justice. This needs a blu-ray transfer badly, but I doubt it will get one even though Kurosawa won an Oscar for it.

It's not a feature that gets mentioned very often in Kurosawa's oeuvre and honestly...I can see why. Not that it's bad, just nowhere near as compelling as his other films. Probably only recommended to Kurosawa completists.
July 31, 2012
I watched this movie when I was 7 years old, still remember it. Great movie!
July 10, 2012



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