Synopses & Reviews
Against a backdrop of the treacherous mountains, rivers and icy plains of the Siberian wilderness, acclaimed Japanese director Akira Kurosawa
(The Seven Samurai
) stages an extraordinary adventure of comradeship and survival.
For decades, Kurosawa had longed to film Vladimir Arsenyev's novel and was only able to do so at the invitation of Mosfilm Studios in Russia, who financed an arduous, two-year filmmaking expedition into the far reaches of Siberia. The Academy Award®-winning (Best Foreign-Language Film) Dersu Uzala is the enthralling tale of an eccentric Mongolian frontiersman (Maxim Manzuk) who is taken on as a guide by a Russian surveying crew. While the soldiers at first perceive Dersu as a naïve and comical relic of an uncivilized age, he quickly proves himself otherwise with displays of ingenuity and bravery unmatched by any member of the inexperienced mapping team, on more than one occasion becoming their unlikely savior.
Most obviously inviting comparison to Kurosawa's epics Ran and Kagemusha, Dersu Uzala has just as much in common with the director's more elegaic dramas such as Ikiru and Dodes'ka-den. Through the eyes of a sympathetic Russian captain (Yuri Solomin), it tenderly observes the hunter's physical and spiritual decline, morunfully parallelled with the gradual disappearance of the wilderness itself replaced by a civilized world that has no room for the barbaric.