Dersu Uzala - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Dersu Uzala Reviews

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Antonius Block
Super Reviewer
November 20, 2018
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 one‚(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 group‚(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 ‚" the sun, moon, wind, water, a tiger, etc. It seems childlike, but it‚(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, doesn‚(TM)t waste, and helps others when he can. As the captain says, ‚He had a beautiful soul. He provided for the needs of a person he didn't know, and probably wouldn't ever see.‚? He also recognizes subtle signs in things like tracks or weather conditions that others can‚(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 don‚(TM)t know whether this character or movie helped shaped George Lucas‚(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 Dersu‚(TM)s spirit and the environment they were in. ‚Man is very small before the face of nature,‚? 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 Arsenyev‚(TM)s soul. It‚(TM)s not Kurosawa‚(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.
½ October 7, 2018
1001 movies to see before you die.

A fantastic voyage that I did not expect from Kurosawa. It reminds me of how hard it can be to survive in the wild and the fragile state of life.
February 5, 2018
A touching film about an extinct kind of man: a man that is one whole with nature. As with all Kurosawa films this film has an epic scope though the story itself is very simple and can be understood even by children, a universal message.
October 20, 2017
Dersu Uzala is certainly overlong and it is quite a familiar tale, but well told with a strong friendship between its main characters, excellent direction and great atmosphere thanks to superb sound and wonderful cinematography. It is slow, but moving and it utilizes its interesting setting so well.
½ January 21, 2017
Truly an unusual treasure directed by the immortal Akira Kurosawa after a failed suicide attempt & temporary migration to Russia.

The story is of a quirky Mongolian Man who befriends & assists a Russian General & his soldiers through one of the harshest areas of Siberia during the winter.

All though laughed at first due to his unusual form he saves the lives of the soldiers a few times & develops a deep bond with the General. The strength of this film truly lies in its simplicity & heart of the old man. Not a fast paced film but a beautiful & engaging one.
November 13, 2016
Kurosawa approaches the film in a very natural way. Essentially, it's long takes of walking through woods but there's poetic beauty to the friendship between the captain and Dersu even in the silences. It's a straightforward narrative with a lot more meaning underneath it all.
Super Reviewer
May 17, 2016
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.
January 8, 2016
The Russian army is out and about in the Siberian wilderness in the early 1900's. Soon they get a new friend - Dersu, a local hunter that has lived in the woods for decades. He helps them a whole lot as he is a superbly skilled hunter, wilderness master and he is also bubling over with wise, nice words. The wildlife is the only life he can live.

This is lovly captured. Nearly two and a half hours of old history with few turns may seem like a big thing to swallow, but it's never boring. Superb photography, some memorable scenes and the splitting of the film (two parts) is nice. I won't give away a key feature here, but the turn that takes place is hitting a sweet spot.

A very long production with wild tigers, turbulent weather and great scenery. Great acting and good atmosphere. I felt I learned something important from it. It will certainly grow on me, since it's turning better in my head days after watching it. Not a fantastic film, but it's very solid, mesmerizing and unforgettable. Only my second Kurosawa flick, but there will be many more.

7.5 out of 10 Kapitans.
November 17, 2015
Wow, this movie is long....Long, long, long periods of silence in drawn out scenes. It's a thematically simple - namely, man vs. nature / man vs. man with the most touching moments involving Derzu and the Captain and how they come to appreciate and respect one another.
March 28, 2015
It's nice seeing Kurosawa movies in color. I found the story quiet and touching.
February 14, 2015
A team of Russian soldiers survey uncharted wilderness and encounter a magical mountain man who knows everything about the wild woods and nature but nothing about living in civilization. There is a scene in which he is gently mocked for speaking to everyone he knows as if nature was alive. Dersu speaks to the sun, the moon, fire and water , and especially animals as if they were people. Kurosawa's elegy to the lost spirituality of the world, the lost, downtrodden cultures of ancient times that had true awareness and purity, but was negated and trampled by the rapaciousness and brutality of modern civilization. The cinematography is downright gorgeous.
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.
½ December 30, 2013
Siberia has never looked more beautiful or more dangerous than in this film. The basic premise of the film is that Russian expedition to Siberia is aided by a hunter who knows the area better than the Russians. So far so good. The film is pretty neatly divided into two halves: The first expedition they have with the hunter, and a second one years later.

The first half of the film is stunning. The wilderness shots look insanely good and Kurosawa definitely knows how to capture a sunset. In fact, one of the most beautiful shots in the film has the hunter explaining to a Russian soldier how important both the sun and the moon are.

However, it's the second half where the problems begin to start. The first expedition ends and it feels like this is where the movie should end, too. This is not the case. The second half is just less interesting than the first. It goes on for far too long and it takes its toll on a viewing audience. A subplot of how the hunter can't adjust to city life is fine and all, but it's just done in a rather dull way here.

There is quite a bit to admire, mostly the scenery, but the fact that the second half is weaker than the first really does harm the film.
November 27, 2013
Let me break this down for you. Everyone in this film, and I mean everyone, has a beard. And I'm not talking about just any beards, I'm talking about sleep-in-a-cave, fashion-a-dagger-out-of-a-stick, mistaken-for-bigfoot, Grizzly-freaking-Adams type beards here. So just think about that.
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.
July 20, 2013
Absolutely fabulous. My favorite movie of all time. Man v nature along with development of seemingly unlikely friendship. Fantastic cinematography.
½ July 16, 2013
emocionante, gran pelŪcula...
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.
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