Трудно быть богом (as they might write in Russian) is the title of a new (2013) film directed by Aleksei German (above), based on the novel by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky.
…it’s utterly compelling and immersive, with every shot a masterclass in old-school in-camera spectacle. In the end this is the one thing that diminishes the film relative to the book, because what the screen version doesn’t have is the novel’s intellectual and moral power — the uniquely science-fictional sense of standing hands-tied in the middle of an entire world’s history with a godlike awareness of the stakes and a tormented mix of revulsion and pity for the sufferings out of which civilisation is born. German trusts the viewer to bring all that if he merely provides the moral chaos and stomach-churning images, which is probably too ambitious an ask. But it’s been so long since ambition in sf cinema was this big that we’d barely noticed how the pictures got so small.
— Nick Lowe, writing in interzone 260
There is a copy in town, and we’re hoping to persuade Cinematheque to screen the film later this year.