My Photo
Location: Tampa, Florida, United States

A girl living in Tampa Bay for the last 11 years. I mostly fill my time with friends, creative hobbies like community theater and arts and crafts, movies and tv, and other random fun things to try.

Monday, April 11, 2011

"Great" Films of the 1970's -- Dersu Uzala (1975)

Dersu Uzala was on a list of best foreign films of the 1970s. It actually won the foreign film Oscar. It took some doing to get a copy that wasn't dubbed in English, but thankfully, Netflix came through. For foreign film/Japanese film buffs, this is the first film Akira Kurosawa made that wasn't in Japanese and was a Russo-Japanese collaboration.

The story takes place in the early 20th century in eastern Russia before the fall of Nicolas II. The two main characters are Captain Arseniev of the Russian Army and Dersu Uzala, an aboriginal Nanai tribesman. The meet in the wilds of Eastern Russia in the woods, where Dersu acts as a guide for the small military group surveying the territory. They go through several survival scenarios, Dersu's Russian grammar is terrible, and time goes by.

I liked the locations of the movie -- big woods and large outdoor spaces. There's a reverence for the landscape that comes through to the viewer. The theme of wilderness that will yield to civilization and urbanization is present, especially at the beginning and end of the film.

What I didn't like about the film was the "mystic native" theme. Dersu is the better hunter, better tracker, better shot. That's appropriate because he's lived his life and made a living in the woods. However, the emphasis on how perfect he is as a woodsman is perhaps overdone. Between that and Dersu's charming-yet-bad grammar, it's somewhat cliche.

The end is abrupt and appropriate to a Russian story. I was disappointed that the ending in particular was limited to Captain Arseniev's point of view, but when one looks back on the whole movie, nothing takes place out of his sight. It's a very pure way to tell a story, if it does take away from the narrative in the ending.

Overall, I must say I enjoyed the movie and Dersu's quaint view of the world. We see him through Arseniev's "modern", industrialized eyes. There's a feeling of longing, as if we are missing out on a part of our world that only the woodsman can see. But there's also the comfort of knowing that we aren't out of place in an industrialized world.

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home