Sat 17.8. 6pm

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#the desert as a mirror on society #classic




1975 / Soviet Union / Japan
Length: 143 min
Language: Russian
Subtitles: English
Classification: S

Director: Akira Kurosawa
Cinematography: Asakazu Nakai
Editing: Valentina Stepanova
Music: Isaac Schwarts
Production: Karlen Agadzhanov

Dersu Uzala

It’s early 20th century in Eastern Siberian desert. Russian explorer Vladimir Arsenjev has camped out in a mysterious valley, when a hunter calling himself Dersu Uzala appears from the darkness. Arsenjev asks Dersu to be their guide. Dersu and the “Captain” form a deep friendship, which brings the travellers safety as the desert takes them by surprise with the forces of nature.

Master of cinema Akira Kurosawa’s Soviet-Japanese nature epic Dersu Uzala is based on Russian explorer and officer Vladimir Arsenjev’s travel book from 1923. Arsenjev made several expeditions in Ussuria, an area that China had handed over to Russia in 1858. Nanai hunter Dersu Uzala, who Arsenjev met on his first expedition, was his traveling group’s guide 1902-1907. In the film Dersu Uzala is the protagonist of the story.

At this point in his long career Kurosawa had just gone through a period that ended in an attempted suicide in 1971. The deeply depressed Kurosawa was disappointed in the Japanese society and doubted his own abilities as an artist. Altruistic, selfless Dersu Uzala is Kurosawa’s answer to his country’s mental atmosphere. Kurosawa felt that so called civilised nations had lost touch with nature and the physical world, and so Dersu, with his close connection with nature, is the hero, while Arsenjev, a product of the civilised world, is lost in the face of ordeals. In the film, nature and culture meet in friendship. The threats of a primitive, “wild” world - building blocks of cinema to this day - are replaced by a sense of security and trust.

The film was awarded with the Golden Prize as well as the FIPRESCI Prize at the Moscow International Film Festival in 1975. It also won the Academy Award for Best Foreign-Language film in 1976.

Before the screening Russia-researcher and journalist Pentti
Stranius will hold a talk.

SINFF 2016