Keswick Film Club - Reviews - Hard To Be A God

Reviews - Hard To Be A God

Hard To Be A God

Reviewed By Vaughan Ames

Hard To Be A God
Hard To Be A God
Choosing films to be shown by the film club is sometimes easy, sometimes not. We always try to find films that won't be seen in Keswick otherwise, but we also try to find the occasional film that will push us outside our comfort zone; if we wanted to see films that are easy to watch all the while there would be no point in the club existing – the Alhambra already has a great array of good films. Getting the balance between popular, but...'arty' films and these more obscure ones is the tricky bit... and, in my opinion, we went too far last Sunday!

'Hard to be a God' had won awards, but the fact that they were mainly in its home country of Russia should possibly have warned us. The film is 3 hours long, in black and white, and in Russian; maybe this too was a bridge too far! The plot – and it was pretty hard to discern one at all – was about a group of scientists in the future who travel to a distant planet which is a clone of Earth but stuck in the Medieval era. Apparently their role was to try to help the planet progress, without any violent interference.

Fortunately the film starts with a voiceover introduction which told us the plot, otherwise I for one would have had no idea. There just seemed to be endless episodes of unconnected events, all set in the most amazing squalor, mud and filth you can imagine; this was not an easy film to watch in any sense.

There is no such thing as a bad film, only one YOU dont enjoy; to give a view from 2 others who enjoyed it more (and there were 5 people in the small audience who gave it a 5 star rating), one sent me an email saying "Isn't the film all about that one sentence in it: 'where would we be without the renaissance' ... the idea is all about watching a 'dark ages' society without challenging it, and as such ,the mire, the claustrophobia, the cruelty, all work..brilliantly I would venture... it is a masterwork.." The other said "It was a strange one, eh? Definitely like nothing else I've ever seen. Although I couldn't imagine myself watching it again, at least for a very long while, I find myself marvelling at it more and more as time goes on. So uncompromising". So you can please some of the people, some of the time..! Sorry, but I didn't get it at all.

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Keswick Film Club won the Best New Film Society at the British Federation Of Film Societies awards in 2000.

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