Трудно быть богом (Hard to Be a God) 2013 Ages 18+

7.30PM Wed 24 Mar 2021 (2hrs 57mins)
GOMA | Cinema A | Free

SYNOPSIS

'I said: let’s try to make a film that has a smell to it; film the medieval era through a keyhole, as if we had lived there ourselves.' - Aleksei German

Arkanar: a planet just like ours, but stuck in the Middle Ages in terms of culture and technology. A group of scientists has been sent from Earth to observe this alien civilisation and gently facilitate its development towards a more humane society. One of the scientists has adopted the guise of the noble Don Rumata and lives in relative luxury compared to the poverty-stricken peasants around him. After years of research in the violent and repressive world of Arkanar, he finds himself increasingly dismayed about his lack of intervention in the cruelty he sees around him and decides to rescue a physician kidnapped by the local ruler.

Hard to Be a God is a film of mud and filth and squalor. It is a relentless, hypnotic piece of cinema, filled with incredible sights and surprising gallows humour. It appears as if a universe unto itself – a feat of art direction and set design with few parallels – drawing clear inspiration from the grotesque paintings of Bosch and Bruegel. German thrusts the audience into the middle of this unholy landscape and allows them too to be immersed in the bedlam, captured in striking black-and-white cinematography. The camera lurks through the mire as if it were too an alien observer; characters address it, gawk at it, interrupt its vision.

The film is an adaptation of the 1964 novel by Soviet science-fiction authors Arkady and Boris Strugatsky – brothers most renowned for their book ‘Roadside Picnic’, adapted by Andrei Tarkovsky into the revered Stalker 1979. German began working on his filmed version Hard to Be a God in 1968, collaborating on the script with the younger Strugatsky, Boris. This production would never come to fruition. The invasion of Czechoslovakia by Soviet forces that year would make their planned filming locations untenable and the political commentary present in the screenplay was deemed unsuitable. As a result, the project was scrapped and remained on hold for decades.

It would take until 2000 for German to resume production on Hard to Be a God. The shoot in the Czech Republic would continue and off until 2006, while another seven years of post-production would follow. German would not live to see the premiere of his film, passing away during the late stages of editing. The final elements of post-production would be completed by his wife and co-author of the screenplay Svetlana Karmalita, along with their son, the respected filmmaker Aleksei German Jr.

Upon its release in 2013, the film would meet a mix of rapturous and bemused reviews – while some critics saw one last masterpiece from the great director, others found an unassailable behemoth too hideous to appreciate. Its reputation in the intervening years has only grown, with many now championing the film as one of the great cinematic achievements of the century so far and a culmination of many of the themes that had obsessed German over his long filmmaking career.

Please note: this film contains scenes of impactful violence.

CREDITS

35MM, BLACK AND WHITE, DOLBY DIGITAL, 177 MINUTES, RUSSIA, RUSSIAN (ENGLISH SUBTITLES) / DIRECTOR: ALEKSEI GERMAN / SCRIPT: ALEKSEI GERMAN, SVETLANA KARMALITA / BASED ON THE NOVEL BY ARKADY STRUGATSKY AND BORIS STRUGATSKY / CINEMATOGRAPHERS: VLADIMIR ILIN, YURIY KLIMENKO / EDITOR: IRINA GOROKHOVSKAYA / PROD CO: SEVER STUDIO, TELEKANAL ROSSIYA, LENFILM STUDIO / PRINT SOURCE/RIGHTS: SEVER STUDIO / SCREENING FORMAT: DCP