When legendary Russian auteur Aleksei German died in 2013, he left behind this extraordinary final film, a phantasmagoric adaptation of the revered sci-fi novel by the Strugatsky brothers (authors of the source novel for Tarkovsky’s Stalker). Hard to be a God began percolating in German’s consciousness in the mid-1960s, and would actively consume him for the last 15 years of his life.
He brought the film close enough to completion for his wife and son to apply the finishing touches immediately after his passing. Taking place on the planet Arkanar, which is in the midst of its own Middle Ages, the film focuses on Don Rumata (Leonid Yarmolnik), one of a group of Earth scientists who have been sent to Arkanar with the proviso that they must not interfere in the planet’s political or historical development. Treated by the planet’s natives as a kind of divinity, Don Rumata is both godlike and impotent in the face of its chaos and brutality.
Watch the full film here.