Hard to Be a God ★★★★½

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

[9]

This review can be found under Reverse Shot's coverage of the First Look series at the Museum of the Moving Image.

www.reverseshot.com/features/1987/hard_to_be_a_god

My original grade was a rare [10] when I saw it at the end of 2013. Seeing it again, my esteem for this astonishing film hasn't dropped all that much, but I did notice the sudden fade-edits that I mention in my RS piece. They are particularly prevalent in the final hour and a half, and although they aren't dealbreakers exactly, they do disrupt the rhythm quite noticeably. This leads me to suspect that they were post-production solutions on the part of AG Jr. to some very minor transitions that were still incomplete at the time of AG Sr.'s death. Again, this is pure speculation. But if we submit these fades to a purely formal reading, they just don't fit with the film's overall grammar.

STRAY THOUGHT, added 1/31/05: I could never put my finger on this until now, but German's work with the Strugatskys' basic template has inevitable contemporary echoes. Not to say that it has to, or that the story cannot stand on its own without some latter-day allegorizing. But as Don Remata flees Arkanar, his project utterly failed, it bears an imprint of latter-day "civilizing" missions in places like Kosovo and Rwanda. Remata evolves over the course of the film from a swaggering Schwarzkopf figure to a defeated, remorseful Romeo Dallaire.

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