Dersu Uzala (1975) - Plot Summary Poster



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  • 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.

  • In 1902, a Russian army expedition is assigned to explore Siberia under the command of Captain Vladimir Arseniev. He befriends the Goldi (Nanai) hunter Dersu Uzala and invites him to guide the explorers through the stark forest up to Khanka Lake. Along their journey, Arseniev discovers that Dersu Uzala is a man with a beautiful soul, and they become close friends. When his assignment ends, Dersu Uzala says goodbye to Arseniev. In 1907, Captain Arseniev is assigned to another expedition at the Ussuri River; when he meets Dersu Uzala in the forest, the lonely hunter joins his team and guides the group. However, he is older and has problems with his vision, and Captain Arseniev invites Dersu Uzala to live with his family in Khabarovsk City. But the old man does not adapt to the urban lifestyle and decides to return to the forest. In 1910, Captain Arseniev is called to Korfovskaïa to identify the body of a man who has his calling card and might be Dersu Uzala.

  • The Russian army sends an explorer on an expedition to the snowy Siberian wilderness where he makes friends with a seasoned local hunter.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • Dersu Uzala is named after the character played by Maxim Munzuk who has lived in the Mongolian/ Siberian countryside since birth. When he wanders into a Russian exploration party led by Capt. Vladimir Arseniev (Yuri Solomin) the captain hires the curious person as a guide. The old Dersu Uzala tells the foreigners stories about the land proving to them that he can out-hunt and out-shoot the best of them, and managing to save the life of the captain during one snow storm. The soldiers develop a deep respect and affection for Dersu and Capt. Arseniev brings the man into his home in the city to live with him and his wife and son bringing to the family an exposure to stories and a way of living that they could not gain from anywhere else in their city life. The domesticated lifestyle doesn't suit Dersu whose daily activities clash with the local constabulary. Dersu decides to go back to the untamed land and Arseniev gives him his best rifle to take with him. Eventaully Arseniev seeks out his old comrade but discovers that fate has intervened.

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