Hard to Be a God

Feb 20 - Feb 23, 2015

(Alexsey German, 2013, Russia, 170 min)

Equally compelling for the saga of its backstory and for the sheer grandiosity of its cinematic vision, Hard to Be a God is a sci-fi critique of Stalinism, set on a far-flung planet strikingly similar to medieval Europe, where suffering is status quo and inhabitants are soaked in the full smorgasbord of bodily fluids. Don Rumata, an Earthling historian, is sent to make heads and tails of this alien portal to the past, without directly interfering with the gruesome civilization. 

Russian auteur Alexsey German (Trial on the Road, My Friend Ivan Lapshin, Khrustalyov, My Car!) did not live to see the completion of his sixth and final epic, a film so many decades in the making (pre-production began in 1998; production lasted several years and editing took five) it achieved legendary status long before its posthumous premiere in Rome. Allegedly, German even received stern notice from the Russian government to expedite the film’s completion. German’s wife and son ended up finishing the film after his death in February 2013.

Based on a 1964 science fiction novel by the Strugatskii Brothers (their novel Roadside Picnic inspired Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker), Hard to be a God represents the culmination of a filmmaking career that strove to reconceive the fundamentals and form of cinema. This is the film he endeavored to make his entire career, reportedly since the novel’s 1964 release. With his dense visual style steered by hypnotizing tracking shots, German stood incomparably alone in world cinema. 

"not only an unforgettable individual masterpiece but probably one of the capital-G Great Films." —RogerEbert.com

"Tarkovsky's Andrei Rublev meets Hoban's Riddley Walker by way of Monty Python. Like its maker, it’s truly one of a kind." —The Stranger

“Veteran actor Yarmolnik (We Are Family) gives the performance of a lifetime as the raging Don Rumata” —The Hollywood Reporter

"may rank as one of your most unforgettable cinematic experiences. . . one-of-a-kind film, it combines a daunting, unrelenting, uncompromising and anti-commercial personal vision with a thoroughly disgusting–but weirdly, rather awe-inspiring–aesthetic" —The Restless Critic

"a pigsty, a horror show, a decadent party at James Franco’s house. . .one of the most densely designed movies ever made; somewhere in the world Terry Gilliam is weeping in despair at ever approaching its level of beastly creativity." —Seattle Weekly


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