A group of scientists are sent to the planet Arkanar to help the local civilization, which is in the Medieval phase of its own history, to find the right path to progress. Their task is a difficult one: they cannot interfere violently and in no case can they kill. The scientist Rumata tries to save the local intellectuals from their punishment and cannot avoid taking a position. As if the question were: what would you do in God's place? Director's statement Aleksei wanted to make this film his entire life. The road was a long one. This is not a film about cruelty, but about love. A love that was there, tangible, alive, and that resisted through the hardest of conditions.Written by
Svetlana Karmalita/Rome Film Festival
I almost never post a review of a film here on IMDb unless I've watched the entire thing. Upfront disclaimer about this review of "Hard to Be a God": I did not finish the movie. In fact, I only watched about a third of this movie. So feel free to stop reading now and move one, or to read my review and discount it. I forgive you.
Now, why am I posting a review about a three-hour film of which I only watched about an hour? 1.) Because an hour is all I'm ever going to be able to watch of this film, so it's either post about it now or never; 2.) I have a feeling based on what I saw and what I've read about the film that watching the other two hours wouldn't much change my opinion, as what you see is pretty much what you get for the entire running time; and 3.) what I did see was compelling enough to make me want to share my opinion about it.
"Hard to Be a God" is difficult to describe so I won't even try. It is astounding in its visual detail and its authenticity in recreating the period look of the Middle Ages in all its scatological unpleasantness. Framed against this backdrop is a cacophony of human activity, swarms of people wandering on and off screen, sometimes interacting with the camera, muttering, shouting, barfing, pooping, peeing, spitting, farting, you name it. It's disgusting, intentionally so, and while I won't go so far as to say it's all pointless, it certainly feels that way. Or rather, the discomfort in watching humanity at its grossest isn't worth sticking with the thing long enough to find out what its point might be.
But that said, it did make an indelible impression on me and kept me thinking about it. I'll leave it to people smarter or more patient (or both) than me to watch the whole thing and decide whether or not it deserves the idolatrous praise critics have heaped upon it. But having watched only the bit of it I did, I can say it's certainly SOMETHING.
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