Dersu Uzala Reviews
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.
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.
Worst things - pace is slow, doesn't build up. End sort of unresolved.
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.
It is something wholly different, a tale of a hunter alone at one with nature who guides a band of russian soldiers on their survey expedition.
Plain, spartan and made with care and compassion, Dersu Uzala is a must see for those who like being in the great outdoors.