HARD TO BE A GOD Directed by Aleksei German / 2013 / 180 minutes / Black and White / Russian w/English subtitles
So … who thinks they like movies set in the middle ages? Who thinks they like a fun sci-fi epic? Who thinks they like post-apocalyptic atmospheric film? Well … when Aleksei German spent 6 years in pre-production, 6 years shooting, a few years in post (he died in post)… and he had you in mind. Its apples and oranges to compare Hollywood films to this film. Hollywood would never make a film like this.
From moment one, as an audience we are thrown into a world of piss and shit and puke and snot and grabbing of the face and … on and on and on — oh with some alternative jazz dropped in for good measure. This is one of the most important and hard to watch films anyone will ever come across. Children dancing with human intestines — a man being executed by being stuffed head first into a giant shit hole. The film almost feels like you are in the middle of a painting by Hieronymus Bosch and you aren’t allowed to leave. That’s the best way I can describe the experience of watching it.
Roughly here is the story (there are really no big spoilers to give out): A group of scientists travel to a neighboring planet that is much like the Earth (inhabited by the same people, etc) except that it has never evolved past the middle ages. So while studying the people, the scientists blend in as Lords. There is a bit of a plot here but it’s really a non-factor. A masterwork like this isn’t about the plot, it’s about the philosophy behind ignorance.
This was made by a Russian man who grew up in the Soviet Union, saw it fall and then witnessed the arrival of a different force of control in Putin. This a swan song by an old master who only made five or six films in his life — but each one is unique and utterly detailed, human and overall political. HARD TO BE A GOD was his obsession since the 1980’s. It was a famous work of Russian literature that was turned into a horrible British epic in the late 1980’s. He made the kind of movie that Russians used to get thrown in jail for 20 years for. What a film.
Eric Michael Kochmer is an actor/writer/director with a background in experimental theater, working and mentoring under musical theater composer/playwright/director, Elizabeth Swados at LaMama Theatre. Shortly after relocating to L.A. he produced and starred in avant garde filmmaker, George Landow's film DIALOGUES (2009). Eric has acted in over 30 feature and short films, including recent supporting roles in the films I'M NOT HERE (Hollyshorts) and "VIRGINITY" (Boston International Film Festival, Las Vegas Film Festival, New Wave Film Festival & The Other Venice Film Festival). Kochmer starred in the crime thriller WHITE RABBIT directed by Bill Kinder (of PIXAR) which premiered at Cinequest and won the Vision Award at The Sacramento International Film Festival in 2014. Kochmer's directorial feature film debut WAY DOWN IN CHINATOWN (WMM 2013 Festival Premier) is being distributed by www.366WeirdMovies.com and is available on Amazon. He has subsequently directed a segment of "Stripping Shakespeare" and eight episodes of the comedic series "Broad Strokes", is currently acting in and producing the low-budget indie feature GEORGIE with award- winning director Jon Rannells, and co-founded a production company (Elegant Grotesque). The first film out of this company will be BLACKSTOCKING JENKINS (currently in post), and he is in pre-production on the next feature film, THE KILLER, THE SINGER & THE WOMAN WHO RAN.