Dersu Uzala

  • Directors: Akira Kurosawa
  • Producers: Yoichi Matsue, Nikolai Sizov
  • Writers: Vladimir Arsenyev, Akira Kurosawa, Yuri Nagibin
  • Genres: Adventure, Drama
  • Actors: Maxim Munzuk, Yury Solomin

The film opens to a forest that is being cleared for development, and Arseniev searching for an unmarked grave. The film then flashes back to Arseniev’s surveying expedition to the region in 1902, before the village was built. A topographic expedition troop, led by Captain Arseniev (Yuri Solomin), encounters a nomadic, aboriginal Nanai tribesman named Dersu Uzala (Maxim Munzuk) who agrees to guide them through the harsh frontier. Initially viewed as an uneducated, eccentric old man, Dersu earns the respect of the soldiers through his great intelligence, accurate instincts, keen powers of observation, and deep compassion. He repairs an abandoned hut and leaves provisions in a birch container so that a future traveler would survive in the wilderness. He deduces the identities and situations of people by analyzing tracks and articles left behind.

Dersu Uzala saves the lives of Captain Arseniev and one of his men not once, but twice. First, when a sudden blizzard overtakes Dersu and the Captain, Dersu shows Arseniev how to quickly build a straw hut for shelter using tundra grass. The two men avoid freezing to death and are discovered by the rest of their comrades when the blizzard clears. Five years later in 1907, Dersu and Captain Arseniev again find each other in the wilderness. When Dersu and Arseniev fall into swift moving currents while crossing a river in a raft, Dersu forces Arseniev to swim while the raft is close to shore then directs the party to cut a tree which can reach him before he drowns.

Some while later, Arseniev receives a telegram informing him that the body of a Goldi has been found, with no identification on him save Arseniev’s calling card, and is requested to come identify the body. Arseniev finds that it is indeed Dersu. The officer who found Dersu speculates that someone may have killed Dersu to obtain the new rifle that Arseniev gave him.

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