Cleveland International Film Festival } March 22 – April 1, 2023 } Playhouse Square


Year: 1975
Country: USSR/Japan
Run Time: 127 minutes


How ironic that the best Soviet movie in years was directed by the great Japanese master Akira Kurosawa, who's now 68. Among his achievements are such films as "Rashomon" (1950), "Throne of Blood" (1957), "Yojimbo" (1961) and, of course, the superlative "Seven Samurai" (1954) - the "Citizen Kane" of the Japanese cinema. DERSU UZALA is based on a Russian book of the same title by Vladimir Arseniev and deals with events that took place in the early 1900s. The movie explores the friendship between Arseniev (Yuri Solomin), a well-known Russian naturalist, and his Siberian guide, Dersu Uzala (Maxim Munzuk). Arseniev's books are simultaneously serious works of literature, travel diaries and scientific reports on the remote regions he explored. Kurosawa, perhaps the greatest of all the epic filmmakers, succeeds in letting us feel the awesome majesty of nature in all its power and pristine beauty. Like all of his movies, DERSU UZALA is magnificently composed and photographed. The film is also a character study and an exploration of two ways of life. Arseniev, who's called "the Captain," is a man of science and precision. The guide is instinctive, pantheistic, mystical. One epitomizes Soviet faith in rational analysis, the other Buddhist nature worship and humility. But Kurosawa is no glib sentimentalist: The "natural" life is not presented as innately superior to modern urban existence - just different. And sadly irreconcilable. Filled with adventure and humor, DERSU UZALA has the epic sweep of the 19th century novels Kurosawa so obviously loves. At 137 minutes, the movie has an epic length as well. Winner of the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film, Kurosawa's movie was hailed by critics as a work of genius - powerful, simple and eternal.

Akira Kurosawa and Yuri Nagibin (from a book by Vladimir Arseniev)

(Production Companies) Mosfilm (Moscow)/Toho (Tokyo)

Asakadru Nakai, Yuri Gantman and Fiodor Dobronavov

Principal Cast
Maxim Munzuk, Yuri Solomin

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