John A. Douglas

Living Passionately In the World of the Moving Image

John A. Douglas John's life in pictures


July 28th, 2009 · 4 Comments · Resurrected Films

Directed by Akira Kurosawa, produced by Yoichi Matsue and Nikolai Sizov; screenplay by Akira Kurosawa and Yuri Nagibin; based on the diary of Vladimir Arseniev; cinematography by Fyodor Dobronravov, Yuri Gantman and Asakazu Nakai; art direction by Yun Raksha; music by Isaak Shvarts.


Derzu Uzala…………………. Maksim Munzuk
Capt. Vladimir Arseniev….…..Yuri Solomin
Mrs. Arseniev……….Svetlana Danilchenko
Wowa……………….…..…….Dimitri Korshikov
Jan Bao……..………..Suimenkul Chokmorov

Dersu small

I’ve never gotten over my love of stories of high adventure and I hope that I never will as there is no film more satisfying that one that tells a story about a man or woman or both up against an almost impossible situation. The part of my youth spent in movie theaters was, for the most part, reserved for stories of high adventure. I wasn’t too much interest in love stories or biographies or musicals. I wanted my 15 cents to go toward witnessing the activities of Hopalong Cassidy, Tarzan, the Durango Kid, Bomba the Jungle Boy and Dick Tracy.

This kind of adventure film fit in with my need for the exciting stories as presented on radio, In comic books and later in pulp magazines. In fact I still love fictional and non-fictional high adventure.

If you’re like me then you will want to see “Dersu Uzala,” a film that is as good as it gets when it comes to high adventure. And what’s interesting is that it’s a Russian film that was directed by one of Japan’s best directors. I’m talking about Akira Kurosawa (“Seven Samurai” and “Yojimbo”) and his film “Dersu Uzala.” The title of the film is the name of one of the principal characters in the film.

Dersu Uzala (Maksim Munzuk) is an Asian hunter who lives in Siberia under the same brutal conditions as the Eskimos. The other principal character in the film is Captain Vladimir Arseniev (Yuri Solomin) who is a Russian surveyor that is exploring Siberia back in 1902. In spite of their cultural differences, the two men become fast friends when they meet in that hostile part of the world. That friendship becomes laced with shared wisdom.

“Dersu Uzala,” which won an Academy Award for Best Foreign Film in 1976, reminds me of the yarns of Jack London like “Call of the Wild” and “White Fang” as they all involve survival. To put it succinctly “Dersu Uzala” is a ripping good yarn. And please don’t be put off by the fact that “Dersu Uzala” is a foreign film as I guarantee that that will not stand in your way of having a whale of a good time.

Of course, the best way to see “Dersu Uzala” is on a big screen in a wide screen process. Because that is not likely to happen (unless I schedule it on Celebrating the Classics which I just might do), the next best thing is on DVD but be sure it is letterboxed. The wide screen is very important to the film shot in the great outdoors.

Movie lovers seek it out and you shall be rewarded.


4 Comments so far ↓

  • Bill

    As always, a fascinating review. I don’t normally peruse the Foreign Film section of my local Blockbuster, Schuler, or Barnes & Noble. (Is this film available at such august stores?) But your review made me want to give it a try.

    Many thanks for the tip!

  • John Douglas

    Try the library or It’s worth the effort.

  • Kris

    Do you, or have you already as I am new to your
    site, plan on writing anything about Alfred
    Hitchcock’s numerous films. I received a compilation of his early films and thoroughly
    enjoyed them.


  • John

    I plan to write a couple of articles on each and every Alfred Hitchcock film that I show in my series. I have already shown “North By Northewest,” “Rear Window” and “The Birds” and others will be coming.
    Keep an eye on this site.

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