Russian Sci-Fi From a Medieval Alien Planet: Hard To Be A God

February 24, 2014 | Marina Galperina

Here’s a freshly-released trailer for late Aleksei Yuryevich German’s last film Hard To Be A God. Based on the novel by Strugatsky Brothers (who also wrote Roadside Picnic which inspired Tarkovsky’s Stalker), the black and white sci-fi Russian-language film premiered earlier at Rotterdam.

Watch the trailer below, via Twitch, for erratic gorgeously-filmed Middle Age-like chaos… with something very alien, far less obvious than a monster seeping slowly in. And then the electronic soundtrack that kicks in 1:07. It’s jarring in a beautiful way.

The planet Arkanar looks like a medieval hell ruled by totalitarian evil. A messenger from Earth has a mission to introduce humanitarian ideas, unaware that they don’t always work. A stunning black-and-white fresco of a world that lost its chance to be saved. A farewell from one of the greatest Russian filmmakers.

Alexei German, who died in 2013, was always a fierce critic of authority. In his last film, he looks into the ultimate hierarchy: that of God and man. On the planet Arkanar, which halted its development in the Middle Ages, there are 30 terrestrial scientists. Don Rumata and his colleagues observe Arkanar with the knowledge of everything that could happen, but they cannot intervene. They are helpless gods in a world in which intellectuals are hunted like game.

Here’s another clip.

A still via Rotterdam.

It feels part Andrei Tarkovsky’s haunting and dreamlike Russian Middle Ages “biopic” of icon painter Andrei Rublev (1966)…

…and part Andrzej Zulawski’s phantasmagorical three-hour too-subversive-for-the-Polish-government epic On the Silver Globe (1988), about astronauts who crash-land on the moon and start a primitive, freak society.

If anyone knows anything about the Hard To Be A God soundtrack… comment. UPDATE: Sound design is by Nikolay Astakhov, the soundtrack music is by Viktor Lebedev.