Aleksey German’s mammoth swan-song film Hard To Be A God screens at the Gene Siskel Film Center for three nights only. Consider catching all three screenings: once to see a great film, the second to conquer it, and a third because you need to. Ticket information can be found here.
Aleksey German’s camera pans as members of the intelligentsia, often referred to as bookworms or wise guys, have been hanged. One after another, executed bodies populate the moving frame through various planes of action until we come across a soldier. He looks as gaunt and pale as any of the suspended bodies in the background. He may not have a noose around his neck, but he’s dead too; he simply doesn’t know it yet. German’s Hard To Be A God is an aggressively unpleasant film about an otherworldly society that never made it past their medieval era. Shot in black and white where among the picture’s many challenges is to make distinctions between blood and shit, the only thing to be sure of is that German is making no concessions toward clarity. Ergo, this is a tough sell. But as German’s world building takes shape, you find yourself enfolding into the stupefying and violent society that composes the film – as a viewer you start as an outsider but, by the film’s end, you become an active participant to its brand of atrocity.Read More