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>
This 1975 joint Japanese-Russian film is a celebration of simple virtues, friendship, loyalty, love, and respect for nature. Based on the journals of the Tsarist explorer and surveyor, Captain Vladimir Arseniev, it is the story of the relationship between Captain Arseniev and an Asiatic hunter of the Goldi tribe named Dersu Uzala. With a love and understanding of the forest that is extraordinary, Dersu guides the Captain through several deadly encounters. He saves the Captain's life by building a shelter out of reeds during a ferocious wind storm. Maksim's performance as Dersu, the ancient woodsman, is very "Yoda-like": wonderous, dignified, and very natural.
The friendship between the two main characters grows over many years and several expeditions in the wild. Their relationship is beautifully developed and moves to an inevitable climax when Dersu and the Captain move back to the Captain's home in the city.
There is in this film a sense of the beauty, tranquility, and timelessness of nature. It takes place at a time in the early part of the last century when people had closer ties with nature and felt a kinship with animals, plants, and the elements. Dersu endearingly refers to all elements of nature including the river, the wind, the trees, and the animals as "men". As the English writer, Hugh Trevor-Roper said of Shakespeare so it is true of Dersu, "He sees mankind almost as part of nature, sometimes basking in a delightful, smiling Nature; sometimes caught up in a fierce, cruel, inexorable, insatiable Nature".
I was totally absorbed in this film and in its regard for the essential goodness of man and the beauty of the natural world. Dersu Uzala is a great film from one of the all-time masters.
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