“Spectacular … an unremittingly immersive three-hour, blood-and-guts mud bath that suggests a movie directed by Bosch and written by Chaucer.” – Film Comment
A legendary film maudit some 30 years in the creative making, the final film by the late Russian director Aleksei German – known as the living torch of Andrey Tarkovsky – is a medievalist sci-fi epic based on the revered novel by the Strugatsky Brothers (who famously inspired Tarkovsky’s Solaris).
Set on the planet Arkanar, “identical to ours, but about 800 years behind”, a grotesque society is led by the hulking Don Rumata, popularly considered to be the son of a pagan god but actually one of 30 scientists sent from Earth on a mission to help the development of society towards a Renaissance/Enlightenment era.
German creates an astonishing medieval world onscreen, complete with an Army of the Holy Orders that wreaks death and havoc. This is a society without any kind of tenderness or love and there are implicit references to the horrors of the Soviet and post-Soviet state.