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Review: Hard To Be A God

Posted by Weeping Tudor from Cardiff - Published on 06/01/2016 at 11:16
0 comments » - Tagged as History, Movies, People

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Review: Hard To Be A God

Trudno byt bogom (Hard To Be A God)
Director: Aleksey German
18, 177mins

I'm all for Avant-Garde cinema. I like to be challenged. I like to think and be provoked. Some films are brilliant at doing this to you. Then there's Hard To Be A God...

This is the final piece by Russian film maker Aleksey German, who passed away in 2013. Completed by his son, this film was 15 years in the making and can proudly stand in the glory of its art house majesty.

The character of Don Rumata is visiting a planet much like our own, only it's still in the dark ages and has yet to see much advancement. Attempts to create a renaissance are quashed, since the folk are content in their squalor and misery. Is he there to kick start a new era or take advance of the situation and abuse his power?Although sci-fi themes linger in the piece, no direct elements of the genre are shown to the audience. Instead, we get a striking depiction of a medieval village so vivd and direct, it blows away any modern day theme park or documentary format.

Think of any bodily function and it will be in this film. So much mud, urine, saliva, deification, phlegm and other unspeakables fester around the camera, this is certainly a film for the strong of stomach. You can almost smell the eye watering amount of muck that is piled into these outstanding set pieces. Picture one of Werner Herzog's early films (check his stuff out as well) and jack it up 100% and you have this film. The use of camera is miraculous and is hurtled in every aspect of the events taking place. The 4th wall is constantly broken, with characters glancing at us for uneasy amounts of time, sometimes speaking more nonsense to us. Viewers are almost giving a 3D effect with all sorts flung at the camera. In one ridiculous moment, a peasant flicks chopped chicken feet at us. No limits for this camera: close ups galore!

As an endurance test, it's a pretty hard film to sit through (5 people walked out during the screening I attended). There is very little story and each line from a character is mirrored with heaps of non-sequitur, infuriating the audience in its harsh absurdism. The Don's motives are abstract and you soon realise that the story is not important, but rather a perpetual sense of futility and empathy engulfs you. Leonid Yarmolnik is an exceptional Don, conquering scenes over the pathetic peasants, who either tolerate him, berate him or want to do harm to him. They themselves are a mystical set of performers and you get the feeling some of them may have been hypnotised, in keeping with Herzog's Heart of Glass.

This is one of those rare instances where you were bowled over by a film, that your bafflement reminds you that you would most likely never watch it again.

This could become an ikon of cinema.

Brutal, remarkable and disgusting.

Rating: 5 stars

Image Source: The Guardian 

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