Dersu Uzala Reviews
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.
The cinematography is spectacular (Kurosawa--need I say more?) and the story is so well told. The story is both obvious and subtle at the same time. The old man guides them and they survive. Also the old man represents the ways of the hills--even represents the hills and wilderness itself--and we see how he fails to fit in with civilization and progress. It is a story of great triumph and great sorrow. It it does not move you, then you are truly dead inside.