Dersu Uzala (Akira Kurosawa, 1975, Russia)

#94 in my list of the top 100 spiritually literate films is Dersu Uzala. A departure in style for Kurosawa, the story of Dersu Uzala is told through the eyes of a typographer named Captain Arseniev who is mapping a region of Siberia in the early 1900s. It is a true story which is based on his memoirs. When a primitive native inhabitant stumbles upon this expedition, the wisdom, resourcefulness, and friendship Arseniev finds in Dersu impacts him for the rest of his life. Dersu Uzala tells the story of the friendship between these two characters and the relationship that they both share with the vast and harsh Siberian wilderness.

This film is a powerfully told story of our connectedness to each other. Dersu is wise, compassionate, selfless, and unassuming. It is gorgeously shot and sensitively scripted. This is a beautiful study in simplicity, survival, and the human will. Dersu is a reminder to us that we each have the power to quietly make a profound impact in someone’s life.

To live as Dersu would be to live as Jesus. It is about always having our eyes open to the needs of those around us and willing to serve in whatever way possible. It is about the lasting power of relationships and the knowledge that every person we meet has passed through the hands of God. It is about finishing strong as the pull of the grave tugs ever tighter. It’s sure to leave you inspired and asking “What more can I do to make a difference in someone’s life?”

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