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Paul Jensen

DERSU UZALA (1975) 5 stars

This 70's Russian film is an odd little epic. Shot in Syberia (in 70mm), Kurosawa captures nature in all its beauty, force and desolation. Certain brutal survival moments unfold almost in real time. Gorgeously cinematic, it won the Oscar for best foreign film and remains haunting and authentic. It's a story about friendship that takes its time and illustrates certain painful truths. It's an epic tale on the story of man and mother nature. Kurosawa's Russian journey through the wilderness of friendship and old age. It's filmed with an ancient visual palette, very slow-paced but endlessly rewarding. By the end, you feel as if you've been in the wilderness yourself. Most refreshing is how Kurosawa resists close-ups. Everything is matter-of-fact and neutral (just like in nature). There is no sentimentality yet the film is very touching. The scenes of intensity are gripping and extremely realistic and believable. The story is steeped in authenticity and it's not without its humor. It's fitting that Kurosawa made this unique film considering his most inspirational authors were all Russian. Ultimately, this 70's Russian epic illustrates nature's vastness amidst man. Capturing both the sun and the moon in the same shot, with breathtaking natural action sequences. One of Kurosawa's best.

 

Genre: Foreign
Director: Akira Kurosawa