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Hard to Be a God

Directed by Aleksey German

Russia, 2013

HOME, 29 December 2015

Hard to Be a God

It took a bit of an effort to get into this one, a black and white, though actually for the most part grey, Russian film set on another planet.

It is a planet that resembles the world of Bosch and Brueghel, a wintry landscape with a god-like noble and lots of gross, grinning peasant idiots. And some sinister monks. Not so much steampunk as stirrup-punk.

Such people who displayed intelligence and skill have been executed, and the grinning idiots are on the look out for others – that’s the storyline. You can read the film as an allegory of Stalinism, the Great Terror and all that. The policy of purging a nation of its intelligentsia and elites by murder and/or deportation to a gulag, as a way of accelerating History. See Bloodlands by Timothy Snyder for further details.

Yet even so, it was a drudge to sit through – and maybe that is the point. In memory, I am beginning to look upon the film more kindly…