A Russian army explorer who is rescued in Siberia by a rugged Asian hunter renews his friendship with the woodsman years later when he returns as the head of a larger expedition. The hunter finds that all of his nature lore is of no help when he accompanies the explorer back to civilization.Written by
Keith Loh <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Akira Kurosawa was a masterful director and powerful storyteller, Dersu has always been my favourite of his films. It was also the first I saw - on Christmas Day afternoon 1978 on UK BBC2 - would that they were as adventurous nowadays! Since then of course I've seen all of his films from Stray Dog on, Rashomon and Ran being especial favourites, but I keep on coming back to watch this one, ostensibly the simplest tale Kurosawa ever filmed.
The understanding and bonding that develops between the two men Arseniev and Dersu is wonderful to see, and over two hours holds your attention with expertly observed minutiae of character and scenic interplay. The last ten minutes cover a lot of ground (no pun intended) but it's all so logical and sad that I always need to see the end credits to recover.
So many marvellous scenes: the tiger in the forest in the morning; the phlegmatic reclusive old Chinaman; the raft; wispy blue shaded smoke from night-fires; the conclusion of course; the view of those two great men, the Moon and the Sun in the same shot. Not everyone would like Dersu, their most likely comments being "boring" - but how wrong they are they'll never know!
A film not fit to lick Dersu Uzala's metaphorical boots (or even Plan 9 from Outer Space's for that matter), Blazing Saddles was filmed the same year in America and a generation on still gets more praise than this poetic masterpiece!
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