Hard To Be A God

Film, Drama
4 out of 5 stars
3 out of 5 stars
(3user reviews)
Hard To Be A God

A bruising epic set on a planet with medieval technology, this experimental sci-fi flick is for fans of Tarkovsky's mud-spattered masterpieces

If you’re a fan of Andrei Tarkovsky’s ‘Andrei Rublev’ and ‘Stalker’ and thought you’d never see their like again, don’t miss this monumental film from Tarkovsky’s Soviet-era colleague Aleksei German. Adapted from a novel by the Strugatsky brothers (who also provided the source material for ‘Stalker’), on the face of it this is a sci-fi epic about an earthling observer on the planet Arkanar, a brutish pre-Renaissance parallel world.

Director German worked for 12 years on his staggering final film, leaving his family to complete it after his death in 2013. The result is surely the most oppressively shit-splattered, mud-logged depiction of medieval life ever put on screen. Narrative-wise, it’s pretty thin considering the nearly-three-hour running time.

But it’s the infernal environment that is actually the story here, asking how the light of human compassion can still flicker in the darkest surroundings. ‘Hard to Be a God’ is an endurance test for its protagonist and audience, yet the reward is an unforgettable cinematic experience and a timely insight into the need to remain human in a world of carnage.


Release details

Release date:
Friday August 7 2015
170 mins

Cast and crew

Aleksey German
Yuriy Ashikhmin
Gali Abaydulov

Average User Rating

3 / 5

Rating Breakdown

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1 person listening

An amazing unrelenting film that drags you through medieval squaller. Disgusting and fascinating, love it. 


More than any film I can think of, Hard to Be a God feels like you've been dropped into another place and time with the camera lens often being peered into like some mysterious new toy by characters.  I had no idea what was going on for most of the running time but as a piece of world-building it's a stunning achievement - every frame is crammed with mostly disgusting detail.

Often visually stunning and stomach-turning, it's a film that I can't say I particularly enjoyed throughout but there's definitely scenes and images that I won't forget in a hurry.

This is not Tarkovsky. But if you want to spend three hours watching good movie, watch Solaris. Because THIS is not a good movie. This not even Hieronymus Bosch level of medieval horror. It's just shit (literally as well as figuratively).

There is no idea in this movie, no story, no philosophy, no great truth, not a single ounce of goodness in the world or people living in it, no great cinematography, nothing - just three hour long tour guided journey through shithole (again, quite literally).

And if you still decide to watch it, please keep in mind that book was much, much better.