Agasi Babayan – Dersu Uzala (1961)
This is little known the first version of “Dersu Uzala” from 1961.
The famous Kurosawa’s “Dersu Uzala” is a remake made 15 years later, in 1975.
Dersu Uzala is a 1961 Soviet film, adapted from the books of Vladimir Arsenyev, about his travels in Russian Far East with a native trapper, Dersu Uzala.
The film was produced by Mosnauchfilm, directed by Agasi Babayan with screenwriter Igor Bolgarin and featuring Adolf Shestakov and Kasym Zhakibayev.
The film won the Golden Wolf at the 1961 Bucharest Film Festival.
This is the photo of real Dersu Uzala, taken by Arsenyev himself:
Arsenyev and Dersu during the expedition:
About Vladimir Arsenyev:
Born in St. Petersburg, the real-life Arsenyev (1872-1930) was among the first Russians to explore the eastern regions of Siberia, and extensively catalogued the geography, flora, and fauna in dozens of books. He is best remembered today for his memoirs, of which Dersu Uzala (published in 1923) is the most famous. It is the centerpiece of a trilogy, begun in 1921 with “In Ussuri Region”, and concluded in 1937 with “In the Sikhote-Alin Mountains”.
About Dersu Uzala
A hunter from the Gold (Nanai) nation, who lived his entire life in the taiga.
Arsenyev’s book “Dersu Uzala” tells of his travels in the Ussuri basin in the Russian Far East. Dersu (who lived c. 1850–1908) acted as a guide for Arsenyev’s surveying crew from 1902 to 1907, and saved them from starvation and cold. Arsenyev portrays him as a great man, an animist who sees animals and plants as equal to man.
After the expedition, in 1907, Arsenyev invited Dersu to live in his house in Khabarovsk.
In the spring of 1908, they parted and Dersu went back to the Primorsky Kray, to his homeland, near the Ussuri River. He was found dead near the station Korfovskaya, not far from Khabarovsk.
Korfovsky village set up a large granite boulder near the place of his death, in the memory of this noble man of the taiga: