About Hard to be a God

Year Released:
Science Fiction
When legendary Russian auteur Aleksei German died in 2013, he left behind this extraordinary final film, a phantasmagoric adaptation of the revered sci-fi novel by the Strugatsky brothers (authors of the source novel for Tarkovsky's Stalker). Hard to be a God began percolating in German's consciousness in the mid-1960s, and would actively consume him for the last 15 years of his life. Happily, he brought the film close enough to completion for his wife and son to apply the finishing touches immediately after his passing. Taking place on the planet Arkanar, which is in the midst of its own Middle Ages, the film focuses on Don Rumata, one of a group of earth scientists who have been sent to Arkanar with the proviso that they must not interfere in the planet's political or historical development. Treated by the planet's natives as a kind of divinity, Don Rumata is both godlike and impotent in the face of its chaos and brutality. (2K DCP presentation) Intended for mature audiences.

Brief introductory remarks and a post-film discussion will be provided by Professors Richard H. Durisen.

The topic of discussion will be the intersection of science and religion, the different views of how science and religion both conflict and merge to inform our world view, and how our perceptions of the value of science and religion evolve with time and differ from one society to another. The discussion may also touch on the role that each plays in defining the human experience, and how science fiction portrays both extremes - Hard to be a God shows a world in which science is suppressed, while other works portray worlds in which religion is absent but science reigns. Contrasting these visions and the conflicts these science fiction worlds experience provokes us to think about and understand more deeply the conflicts in our world today.

Richard H. Durisen
Emeritus Professor, Indiana University - Astronomy Department
Professor Durisen joined the IU Astronomy faculty in 1976. He received a B.S. in Physics from Fordham University in 1967 and a Ph.D. in Astronomy from Princeton University in 1972. Professor Durisen has had extended research leaves at NASA-Ames Research Center as an NRC Research Associate and at Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics as Fulbright Fellow and an Alexander von Humboldt U.S. Senior Scientist Awardee. He also has a long-standing interest in science fiction and film.

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