Sunday, June 08, 2014

Hard to be a god, on film

I just started reading Hard to Be a God, by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, freshly available in a new English translation.

Written in 1964, it's considered a science fiction novel. But the opening pages have the feel of medieval feudalism about them, a scenario more typical of the fantasy genre. I'm not big on labels, but let's just say I find the problem of the distinction between science fiction and fantasy interesting, and it's on my mind because I just finished reading Among Others, by Jo Walton, which blends those two genres in an entirely different way (and more on this later) and fitting that I should be considering the issue now as I've just embarked on another MOOC, Fantasy and Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World.

Poking around the internet this morning, I was delighted to discover that this "classic" (which no one has ever heard of) has been adapted for film, twice. (This information would have been known to me earlier had I actually read the back cover of my edition.)

Aleksey German's version premiered just half a year ago and its North American release is highly anticipated. Trailer:

And here's another atmospheric look.

The 1989 film, Es ist nicht leicht ein Gott zu sein, a German-Soviet coproduction, can be viewed in its entirety on YouTube, although I'm somewhat turned off by the cheesiness of the title song, as well as by the fact that the Strugatsky brothers abandoned working on the project and criticized the final result.

If anyone has read the novel or seen either movie, I'd love to hear from you about it.

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