Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Dersu Uzala (1975)

Today's film is Dersu Uzala.  It is fairly predictable but still a nice film.

It reminded me of Tarzan or George of the Jungle or any other film where someone used to living outdoors in the wild is forced to live in the city.  But the film is based around an actual soldier's journal so we know that this is somewhat true.

So a long time ago, over 100 years ago, a group of soldiers were sent by the Russian government to explore the wild lands of Siberia.  They run into a random dude living out there.  His name is Dersu Uzala and he is a member of the golden people.  He had a family with him, but they all died from smallpox decades ago.

Dersu and the soldier Arsenev become friends, and Arsenev relies on wisdom many times.  Sometimes it even saves his life.  He invites him to come with him, but Dersu wants to stay in the wild where he is comfortable and happy.

Years later, Arsenev comes back with a bigger group. He is happy to see Dersu again!  However, a tiger stalks their camp and Dersu shoots it.  It only wounds the animal so he is now afraid he is cursed.  Soon, his eyesight becomes too poor to focus on the animals to shoot.  Arsenev insists that he come with him because a hunter isn't so good when he can't see.

Why didn't he just go and buy Dersu some glasses?  Well, I mean, he's old so he might have a condition like macular degeneration or hardening of the lenses that glasses won't help.  Or, his problem might be psychological.  He is so upset at wounding the tiger that he can't focus on any targets.  We don't know.

Obviously after watching other films like this, we can see how this is going.  Dersu belongs in the woods and can't cope with city life.  Even though he can't see so well, and can't hunt animals or find other ways to feed himself, he still convinces his host family he needs to go.  Arsenev gives him a really good rifle to hunt with.  Unfortunately, Dersu is killed by someone who stole his gun.  I liked this film but it was just too predictable and I couldn't expect anything.  It was directed by Akira Kurosawa so we knew it was going to be a good story.  He was actually invited by the Russian government to make a film because they didn't much access to American television and needed good filmmakers.  It was a nice change of pace from the other Russian films I've seen.  I will give it an 8/10.

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