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In early 20th century Russia, army explorer and surveyor Captain Vladimir Arsenyev (Yuri Solomin) sets out to map the remote, wild and often frozen Siberian wilderness with a small team of men. They recruit a local elder, Dersu Uzala (Maksim Munzuk) to help them on their trek, and find the going often brutally difficult. Dersu Uzala is a simple old peasant, at first ridiculed by Arsenyev's men, but his resourcefulness and wisdom soon turn ridicule to respect. And Arsenyev finds in him a true friend from an alien culture.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Akira Kurosawa's Oscar winning film is based on the journals of Russian army explorer and surveyor, Captain Vladimir Arsenyev (Yuri Solomin). It's the often touching story of the friendship that developed on a map-making expedition between Arsenyev and Dersu Uzala (Maksim Munzuk), an elderly peasant woodsman recruited as their guide.

It's a true life buddy movie and adventure, all wrapped in a visual feast, as Kurosawa makes the most of the stark, remote Russian landscape, over several seasons. The film draws us in with its strong sense of time and place in the early years of the 20th century, and with the exceptional performance of Maksim Munzuk as Uzala; uneducated yet wise, simple yet gifted - and a totally captivating character.

This is one of my all time Kurosawa favourites for its humanity and its frugal yet powerful filmmaking. Enduring tough conditions, the cast and crew deliver veracity by the bucketload. The emotional payoff is in the deep friendship that develops between such unlikely friends. Kurosawa had always wanted to tell this story: and no wonder. It's a feast of characters and story.

Published January 3, 2008

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(Soviet Union/Japan, 1975)

CAST: Maksim Munzuk, Yuri Solomin, Svetlana Danilchenko, Dmitri Korshikov, Suimenkul Chokmorov, Vladimir Kremena

PRODUCER: Yoichi Matsue, Nikolai Sizov

DIRECTOR: Akira Kurosawa

SCRIPT: Akira Kurosawa, Yuri Nagibin (book by Vladimir Arsenev)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Fyodor Dobronravov, Yuri Gantman, Askazu Nakai

MUSIC: Isaak Shvarts

RUNNING TIME: 144 minutes

PRESENTATION: 1.85:1 (16:9 enhanced); DD 5.1

SPECIAL FEATURES: Disc 1: feature Disc 2: Interview with actor Yuri Solomin; Behind the Scenes; Biography of writer V.K Arsenyev; cast and crew filmographies


DVD RELEASE: May 7, 2007

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