The near future. The planet Arkanar has been lagging a few hundred years behind Earth in its development and now is in the Medieval phase of its history. A group of observers from the Earth work there and try to subtly alter the direction of circumstances without interrupting the logical flow of history. Don Rumata Estorian (Leonid Yarmolnik) realizes his task to maintain neutrality, but when the power is seized by the “black brotherhood,” that has overthrown the domination of the “greys,” as disgusting as the “blacks”, but less blood-thirsty, Rumata cannot hold back. Asking himself the classic Hamletian question “To be or not to be,” Don Rumata can’t remain a plain observer and interferes in the historical process. “Hard to be a God” is Alexei German’s posthumous masterpiece, anticipated for fifteen years. It’s a sci-fi anti-utopia based on the homonymous novel by the Strugatsky brothers, narrating about totalitarianism and the neverending Middle Ages which failed to turn to Renaissance. This movie is a judgement to any kind of power, which always dies in more throes than its victims. Probably, the most significant Russian movie since Tarkovsky’s “Andrei Rublev,” that reminds of the revived Bosch’s canvases. Alexei German’s contribution to cinema was marked by the Golden Capitoline Wolf Award at the Rome Film Festival.
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