Dersu Uzala


Dersu Uzala (1975)



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Movie Info

This film is the near-poetic story of an elderly guide and gold hunter (Maxim Munzuk). At the turn of the century, Munzuk agreed to shepherd a Russian explorer and a troop of soldiers through the most treacherous passages of Siberia. The guide is able to save his party from perishing.

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Critic Reviews for Dersu Uzala

All Critics (14) | Top Critics (2)

The episodes in this second part go on endlessly, loosely, obviously. They lack the revelations of the winter scenes and they do little but belabor at length the points already made. They wreck the film's balance and make its achievements dull.

May 9, 2005 | Rating: 2.5/5 | Full Review…

Reflects a decline in dramatic power and a doting, futile taste in sentimental hero-worship.

Aug 30, 2003 | Full Review…

The film's finest passage occurs when the hunter and the captain are stranded on a frozen lake-a harrowing, spooky-gorgeous spectacle of supernatural realism.

Apr 10, 2018 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…

a gorgeous looking and highly affecting adventure

Jul 21, 2006 | Rating: 5/5

It's sweetly told and heartwarming, much like a Disney film, but not demanding much of the viewer.

Jul 19, 2006 | Rating: C+ | Full Review…

To Arseniev, Dersu embodies something civilized men have lost… Neither can really understand the other — which is precisely what makes their friendship so special.

May 31, 2004 | Rating: A | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Dersu Uzala

How fantastic is it that Kurosawa was a fan of Russian literature, and picked this obscure memoir to make a film out of when the Soviet production company Mosfilm approached him during a very difficult period in his life. Somehow it seems appropriate, being so quiet and contemplative, and like a return to truth or oneâ(TM)s original self. The story is fairly simple, relating the real-life adventures of an exploration into the rugged region around the Ussuri river basin when the groupâ(TM)s captain (Vladimir Arsenyev, played by Yury Solomin) befriends a mountain man (Dersu Uzala, played by Maxim Munzuk). Early on we see that Dersu identifies everything around him as a person â" the sun, moon, wind, water, a tiger, etc. It seems childlike, but itâ(TM)s actually rather profound - he sees a unity to everything, and that man is not separate from his environment. He lives as one with nature, respects its power, doesnâ(TM)t waste, and helps others when he can. As the captain says, âHe had a beautiful soul. He provided for the needs of a person he didn't know, and probably wouldn't ever see.â? He also recognizes subtle signs in things like tracks or weather conditions that others canâ(TM)t see. The scene where he ingeniously builds a makeshift shelter out of tall grasses on the taiga when it gets late and the wind starts howling is excellent. I donâ(TM)t know whether this character or movie helped shaped George Lucasâ(TM)s vision of Yoda, but there are certainly similarities. The pace of the film is on the slow side, and that combined with minimal action may turn some viewers off, but I found that it went well with Dersuâ(TM)s spirit and the environment they were in. âMan is very small before the face of nature,â? the film says, as Kurosawa gives us beautiful footage of wide open spaces, ice floes, and forests. Let the simplicity wash over you and cleanse you, like Dersu undoubtedly did with Arsenyevâ(TM)s soul. Itâ(TM)s not Kurosawaâ(TM)s very best, but this is a good one, and it got the 65-year-old director back on track to make more films at the end of his career.

Antonius Block
Antonius Block

Super Reviewer

This is a good film about an endearing friendship. The captain and Dersu are both likable, and the film hosts some impressive visuals. All in all, good Kurosawa. I would put this on the high side of the 4 rating. It's a film that I think may gain even more affection upon rewatches.

Kyle Meisch
Kyle Meisch

Super Reviewer


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.

Byron Brubaker
Byron Brubaker

Super Reviewer

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.

danny d
danny d

Super Reviewer

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