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Soviet Union / Japan 1974
Directed by
Akira Kurosawa
138 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
4 stars

Dersu Uzala

Long before there was the term "world cinema" this Soviet Union/Japan co-production, an adaptation of the journals of Vladimir Arseniev, a military surveyor, contrasts the raw and the cooked, magic and science in this fact-based story of the friendship between Captain Arseniev (Yuri Solomin) on an expedition to map the Russian-Chinese border at the turn of the century, and an old hunter he meets, Dersu Uzala (Maksim Munzik).

Kurosawa was experiencing a personal and career low at the time he started this film, having made a failed a suicide bid some months earlier. No doubt this background has much to do with the film's elegaic tone but it also invests it with a palpable depth, whilst the director's meticulous eye is always evident. The film, which was shot in 70 millimetre and took four years to complete, has little in the way of plot but much to offer both as a nature film and in its the empathy for its titular subject and the innocent world view he embodies. It won the 1976 Best Foreign Film Oscar and helped Kurosawa, who would return to related themes in his later films, revive his career.

DVD Extras: 3 short interview segments with Yuri Solomin; behind-the-scenes footage; biography of Vladimir Arseniev; filmographies; stills gallery.




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