1. “A Small Batch from Life’s Work.” J. Hoberman on Aleksei German.
“Befitting a movie its maker strove to realize his entire professional life, Hard to Be a God evokes an imagined past. Its setting is the kingdom of Arkanar on an Earthlike planet where society has evolved only as far as the Middle Ages or, perhaps, skipping the Renaissance, gone directly from feudal barbarism to barbaric fascism. Literacy is a capital crime. Russians are dispatched in a team from their achieved Utopia. Discreetly employing advanced technology, they live among the Arkanarians, observing their primitive ways, including coups and executions, while doing their ineffectual best to nurture positive human developments.”