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Dersu Uzala book looking for a publisher

Dersu UzalaOne of the many great things about running Akira Kurosawa NID is that I am time to time contacted by interesting people with connections to Kurosawa.

Yesterday, I received a note which was allegedly sent by Vladimir Vasilyev. Vasilyev worked as an associate director for Dersu Uzala.

I say “allegedly” because I have no way of verifying that the person who sent me the message actually is Vladimir Vasilyev. Then again, at the moment I have very little to doubt that fact, either.

In any case, here is the note:

Мне посчастливилось работать с выдающимся Акирой Куросавой над фильмом “Дерсу Узала”, получившим “Оскар”. Я там был режиссёром с советской стороны, Вёл ежедневный дневник на протяжении трёх лет. Подготовил к изданию книгу в 2-х томах.

700 страниц текста и более 500 рабочих моментов съёмок, кадров из фильма, раскадровок Куросавы…

Ищу спонсора для юбилейного издания к 100-летию Акиры Куросавы на русском языке, поскольку Союз кинематографистов России и Мосфильм оказались нищими и неблагодарными к имени Великого режиссёра.

Если меня услышите – помогите!

My Russian is nearly non-existent, but with the help of a dictionary and a machine translation tool or two, I have been able to squeeze out the following translation which, while no doubt flawed, should give you the gist of the message:

I was privileged to work with the great Akira Kurosawa on the film Dersu Uzala, which received an Oscar. I was a director on the Soviet team, and kept a diary daily for three years. I have prepared this diary for publication in two volumes.

The book includes 700 pages of text, more than 500 pictures (?) from the filming, shots from the film, Kurosawa’s storyboards…

I am now looking for a sponsor to publish the book in Russian in conjunction with Akira Kurosawa’s centenary. The Russian Union of Cinematographers and Mosfilm have been uninterested and unappreciative.

If you hear me – please help!

As I mentioned, the translation is by someone (me) who doesn’t actually speak Russian. If you are able to provide a better translation, please do so!

If true, this is a book that would be extremely interesting to eventually have in English, and would for example make a wonderful “extra” on a brand new fully restored Dersu Uzala DVD box set, which is also badly needed. Criterion, I am looking at you.

If you would like to contact Mr. Vasilyev, you can write to me at vili.maunula[at]gmail.com, and I will pass you his email address. I have meanwhile written back to Mr Vasilyev, but since as far as I know we do not share a common language, the dialogue there may be quite short-lived.


Discussion

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cocoskyavitch

Vili, it is surprising how one can reach out and communicate these days. As I mentioned, I wrote Professor Matsuhiro Yoshimoto and received a thoughtful reply. I tend to think Mr. Vasilyev’s note, your translation, and all the relevant links to this site could be sent to:

1. Criterion
2. AK 100

Go ahead, send.

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Vili Maunula

Thanks for the suggestions, Coco!

I actually contacted Criterion on the day I posted the news item, and suggested Mr Vasilyev to contact the Japanese embassy in Moscow, yet I never thought of approaching AK100. I’ll do that, too.

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cocoskyavitch

I know that A.K. 100 isn’t exactly what we had hoped…but, still, if they have any connection with Kurosawa’s estate, this might be of interest to them. Hey, Vili, I had the most wonderful flash last night…while doing a quick peek at the Golden Globes awards on television I saw them post a black and white of George Lucas, Coppola and Kurosawa…! It was great to see him!

Also, I am not sure, but I think Martin Scorsese was crying about Steven Spielberg getting the Cecil B. DeMille award…He looked as if her were crying, anyway…

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Yury

Your translation from Russian is perfect. You did a very good job. That line with “The book includes 700 pages of text, more than 500 pictures (?) “, I’d think that it’s not 500 pictures that he is talking about. Literally he says “500 working moments” which make me think of anecdotes or stories rather than pictures. It’s not clear though in the original. It would be wonderful if this book gets published.

From where I come, Dersu Uzala, the real person, is a hero. Kurosawa filmed his movie the year I was born in the vicinity of my native village in Russia where the actual Dersu Uzala lived. The villagers still remember the Japanese director with dark glasses. The biggest near by city is called Arseniev, named after the author of “Dersu Uzala”, the book. There’s a monument there to both Vladimir Arseniev and Dersu Uzala. These all, including Kurosawa now belong to the region’s collective memory. Congratulations on your fantastic web site!

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Vili Maunula

Thanks for checking the translation, Yury! I really hope that this book sees the light of day one day.

And thanks for your kind words about the website. With your local connections, it would be great to have you around — especially so when our Online Film Club discusses Dersu Uzala in March!

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Yury

No problem, Vili.

By the way, I saw the exhibition of Kurosawa’s drawings here in Paris at the Petit Palais. It’s a small but moving exhibition. Was disappointed that there was nothing related to Dersu Uzala though 🙂

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Vili Maunula

I don’t actually think that Kurosawa was at the time of Dersu Uzala yet doing his paintings. I think it all really started only with Kagemusha.

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Yury

You’re right. It’s only in 1978 that he started doing it for “Kagemusha”. I didn’t know that at the time.

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cocoskyavitch

Welcome, Yury! Dersu Uzala is a beloved favorite of mine, and having you on board, with your close physical connection to the land that plays so important a role in the story is exciting. Can’t wait to hear your insights when we discuss the film!

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Yury

cocoskyavitch, thanks for a warm welcome! Dersu Uzala is more than just a movie (or a book) to me.

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cocoskyavitch

Yury, I really cannot wait to read your insights. I have been lucky enough to travel to Russia-and those memories of the land made me feel very close to Dersu Uzala. Art is so cool because it can make something “foreign” your own!

Also, Teruyo Nogami’s book “Waiting for the Weather” has some fantastic passages about the making of the film that seem to jump off the page with vibrant detail. It will be a treat to read your insights.
I can well believe that it is much more than just a film or book to you!

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