It’s no surprise narratives like this can be found throughout Australian literature, but I was taken aback by just how similar these three stories are. They represent a de-landing myth in Australian culture, a repeating plot of threat to home that I’m sure could be found elsewhere too. Frankly, what surprised me most was that they don’t even make much of an effort to be different from one another.
Comparing the warmth of a friendship with the tragedy of death, Dersu showcases the human cost of empire. The film argues that imperialism has impacts so large that they are unable to be controlled by the very actors undertaking them. By exploring the impact of the imperial project on just one relationship, between Dersu and on Captain Arsenyev, the director, Kurosawa, is able to capture the tragedy that imperialism, by its nature, creates for both of these groups of people, and their powerlessness to stop it.