Analysis of the relationship between Dersu and Arseniev

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In the film “Dersu Uzala (1975)”, Akira Kurosawa presents a strange story regarding the relationship between Arseniev, an army commander of Russia who was given the mandate to conduct expedition surveys and an itinerant ethnic hunter, Dersu Uzala. The movie is named after this hunter Dersu Uzala, a master of survival skills in the forest. The situation is contrary to the actor when he is in the city because he often feels useless and helpless. Hence, the satire of city refinement, which identifies itself as greater is demonstrated to Arseniev by Dersu Uzala. However, Dersu has totally lost touch with man’s pure natural state as herein expressed.

Firstly, Arseniev is leading his troop in a survey excursion in the forest. While the soldiers were on their mission in a forest found in a region known as Shkotovo, they coincidently came across a hunter called Dersu Uzala. After a short consensus, the hunter agrees to lead Arseniev and his crew in the forest. Dersu's superiority in the woods is seen when the film presents him as a person blessed with forest dispositions and powers. Moreover, he is observed to have mastered all the forest routes. He preserves temporary huts in the jungle and puts supplies in a wooden vessel for other travelers to eat when they visit the same place.

Furthermore, Dersu shows his majesty in the woodland when he salvaged the life of Arseniev while they were in an ice-covered lake. Moreover, when the hunter shows the captain how to make a simple hut to accommodate them using grass, Arseniev faints due to tiredness. The movie sounds ironical as a bushman is observed saving trained soldiers from extreme cold and other difficulties, especially when he pulls them into the temporarily made hut. After another five years, Arseniev comes back to the forest with his soldiers, and after finding the hunter, he again leads the soldiers in the forest, saving them from wild animals, such as the tiger. He saved them by shooting the tiger and later regretted by saying that Kanga, their forest spirit was unhappy and that he may face the wrath.

On the other hand, the captain takes Dersu to the city, where he becomes powerless, and he is seen to have completely lost touch with man’s pure natural state. While they were in the town called Khabarovsk, Dersu realizes that he is not permitted to slice woods. Furthermore, he becomes irritated because the city authorities cannot allow him to make a hut or ignite fire in the city park. Moreover, the hunter notes that in the city, he cannot shoot the way he used to do while he was in the hills. Although he had loved Arseniev, he opts to return to his original residence, since the life in the city is difficult for him. The film then shows how the captain offers him a rifle as a gift. The hunter eventually uses the railroad pathways and heads to the wilderness due to his inferiority in the city.

Although Dersu is found dead by an officer who guesses that his killer wanted the rifle, which his friend gave him, he had vividly shown earlier that life in the forest was the best for him as compared to that in town. From the film, Dersu has represented the innocent and primitive individuals in the community while Arseniev symbolizes the civilized society.

September 25, 2023




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