Hard to Be a God

Hard to Be a God ★★★★★

Not since THE TAKING OF POWER BY LOUIS XIV has the sheer stench of a pre-indoor-plumbing world emanated from a film as it does in HARD TO BE A GOD. Confounding (I would not hazard a plot summary even using a synopsis of the book it's based on for reference without at least another viewing) but tactile, German's final film is one that relentlessly looks at the world without sentiment, as a place slick with blood and shit. And rather than claim God does not exist or is a negligent son of a bitch, the film takes a measure of pity on Him, asking what short of total cleansing fire a deity could be expected to do to fix a world ruined by His best and worst creation? I've only seen one other Aleksei German film, the similarly inscrutable/incredible MY FRIEND IVAN LAPSHIN, but even so, I cannot imagine HARD TO BE A GOD marks a man going out on anything less than his fullest powers.