Kurosawa's underrated masterpiece--the hidden gem of his career. What you remember is the sublime musical score which embodies both the young explorer's memories of the old man and the vastness of the Siberian wilderness, photographed with breathtaking, powerful imagery. What you remember is Dersu, a symbol of humanity's lost connection to nature, and the smallness of humanity in the face of nature.
The relationship between the two leads is the intended focus here, but I found Kurosawa's long takes and deep vistas ironically leading to a third character, the Siberian Wilderness itself, taking center stage and stealing my sympathies from the other two.
I've watched this film many times just marveling at its simplicity and profundity, captured with seemingly effortless vision. As if a camera was plopped down in the middle of life as it's occurring, unpremeditated or orchestrated. This was the genius of Kurosawa at his best.
To this day, if I lose my companion at a shopping mall, I call out Dersu....!
For me, a mall is the wilderness.