Dersu Uzala

In modern film I’ve come to expect anti-heroes. People who don’t necessarily do the right thing; flawed but human. Dersu Uzala, based upon the journals of Russian Captain Vladimir Arseniev, reminds us that humans can be basically good, and walk through life doing the right thing no matter how difficult.

Dersu is the story of a Goldi (Nanai) hunter who acts as guide for the explorer and his men. Nature is a character in the film, portrayed as beautiful, treacherous, and of a certain intelligence. She is dangerously indifferent to the party, but Dersu has lived with her for decades, and knows exactly what to do to survive. It is not a passive relationship; rather, Dersu daily makes supreme effort to maintain his life.

Yet another Kurosawa masterpiece, the film maintains a quiet but engrossing pace. Despite what must have been a grueling location shoot, nothing is out of place in the frame. Relationships between men, trees, rivers, wind, all precisely expressed. I kept watching and thinking to myself: “How long did he wait for that shot??” The images left by this film will remain for a long time.

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