Review: Hard To Be A God
Blu-ray: Hard To Be A God (2013)
This film follows the story of Anton and his fellow ‘scientists’, who are undercover operatives from the future planet Earth, on a mission to an alien planet that is populated by human beings whose society has not advanced beyond the Dark Ages.
Based on the novel by legendary Russian sci-fi authors Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, Hard To Be A God was a dream project for director Aleksei German since the late 1960s. He commenced shooting in 2000, and would take six years of filming, a further six of post-production and a posthumous premiere before his masterpiece was finally unveiled. His son, Aleksei German Jr finished the editing of the film before its premiere.
All the above was taken from Arrow’s press release, mainly because I am finding it hard to give a cohesive review of this film, in fact the whole package, without sounding like some pseudo intellectual.
The protagonists of the story/film must not interfere with the world around them. So any ‘enlightened’ thinking from characters from that planet are quashed by the planet/country’s rulers. It’s all very ‘this is a reflection of my country’ however, this film really is – for all its quirkiness (actually that might be the wrong word, as quirky gives the impression of light-heartedness – this isn’t) it’s a very watchable film, possibly an epic. I could imagine this being produced by a young Russian Ridley Scott. I did read one review comparing it to Game of Thrones which was a puzzle as the 2 are nothing alike, except for some gore and muck.
I could liken it to the relatively unknown The Navigator in theme and feel. That ‘hey this is a bit weird but I like it’ sorta thing.
Arrow Films give us a great package yet again. It has specially revised subtitles and brand new extras including Daniel Bird giving a really interesting talk about the Arknar Massacre and Michael Brooke literally doing a documentary on the film maker and his life. Both are great, as I didn’t know anything about this particular director. However, as much as I admire Michael, I did find his ‘reading his notes’ but looking to the side, a bit off putting and ended up just listening (try pretending your talking TO someone, I know you’re not, but it looks better!).
It’s a strange film, but very enjoyable so don’t let the fact that it appears to be Russian High-brow ‘art’ put you off!
- High Definition (1080p) presentation
- Original Russian soundtrack
- Optional English subtitles
- Exclusive interview with Aleksei German Jr, who completed his father’s film after his death
- Interview with co-screenwriter Svetlana Karmalita, the director’s widow
- The History of the Arkanar Massacre, an appreciation of the film by Daniel Bird
- The Unknown Genius: Michael Brooke looks at Aleksei German’s creatively dazzling but politically hobbled career
- Imagery gallery
- Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Andrzej Klimowski (to be revealed)
Review by Tina (co-host of 60 Minutes With) from a disc kindly supplied by Arrow Films.