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4.0
998 Ratings

Hard to Be a God

Трудно быть богом

Directed by Aleksei German
Russia, 2013
Sci-Fi
  • Russian
  • English

Synopsis

An Earth scientist is sent to a planet that resembles our own during the Middle Ages—and he must not interfere in the planet’s political or historical development. Treated by the planet’s natives as a kind of divinity, he is both godlike and impotent in the face of chaos and brutality.

Our take

Years in the making by visionary Russian director Aleksei German, this medieval epic adapted from a novel by Soviet sci-fi masters the Strugatskiy brothers (Stalker) plunges humanity into the mire on a quest for civilization itself. See our festival review and our exploration of medieval cinema.

Hard to Be a God Directed by Aleksei German
The late filmmaker’s anguished excavation of all that is venal, cruel, and idiotic in the human character is also graceful and bitterly funny. Despite the film’s categorical absence of nostalgia, it’s a fitting swan song for the Petersburg auteur, an uncannily conjured purgatory of the dissident that mocks our search for significance beyond its glut of perfectly honed details.
January 04, 2016
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The final film by the Russian master Alexsei German is an incredibly dense odyssey through humanity at its most grotesque. It’s a tour de force of exquisitely choreographed clutter with things coming at the viewer from all angles, threatening to overwhelm the camera in sensory overload.
December 18, 2015
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The coronation of a sparse but vertically momentous career of a veritable giant of soviet cinema. . . . The film is pockmarked with allegorical leads but decomposes every narrative cue into a lysergic Bosch-like morass, from which it’s impossible to emerge unscathed. Hypnotic traveling shots capture a world of unspeakable cruelty as if it’s unfolding in real time.
June 27, 2018
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