The difference between New World and, let’s say, Cannon, is that New World has more movies that are in the Criterion Collection or considered high art, because Roger Corman distributed a lot of films from high end directors while staying hands-off on the final product.

Directed and co-written by Akira Kurosawa, this was both his only non-Japanese-language film and his only 70mm film. Based on the 1923 memoir of the same name by Russian explorer Vladimir Arsenyev, Dersu Uzala won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and was a big hit in the USSR, Europe and even the U.S.

This is a story told by Captain Arsenyev (Yury Solomin), who years ago hired a named Dersu Uzala (Maxim Munzuk) and was amazed by the way the man may have been uneducated, yet could deduce nearly anything and knew instinctively how to survive in the harsh world of winter that he lived in. Yet he was also capable of great kindness, as at one point he builds a hut and stocks it not for himself but for those who will come after him.

In 1971, Kurosawa attempted suicide, questioning his creative ability after the commercial failure of Dodes’ka-den and his inability to get another film funded. He had to have seen himself in Uzala, a man growing older whose once incredible powers are reduced to having to live in normal society and afraid when he can no longer see enough to hunt for himself.

He had wanted to make this movie since the 50s, but couldn’t figure out how to make it in Japan. Imagine his surprise when a member of the Russian embassy reached out. He asked him to make a Russian film for Russians. They needed him as their country lacked the talent to make a quality film. It was as if two different dreams could come true and reason to remain alive. The Russians were shocked when he asked if he could film Vladimir Arsenev’s book, because at that time it was little known outside their country.

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