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Hard to be a God aka "Trudno byt bogom" [Blu-ray]
(Aleksey German, 2013)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: Sever Studio
Video: Arrow Academy
Region: FREE (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)
Disc Size: 48,296,345,371 bytes
Feature Size: 42,255,705,024 bytes
Video Bitrate: 28.00 Mbps
Case: Standard Blu-ray case
Release date: September 14th, 2015
Aspect ratio: 1.66:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
DTS-HD Master Audio Russian 2095 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2095 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
•Introduction by co-screenwriter Svetlana Karmalita (15:22)
Exclusive interview with
Aleksei German Jr, who completed his father s film after his
• 44-page liner notes booklet with photos, an essay by Jonathan Romney and interview with Aleksei German
Description: A group of scientists visits the distant planet
Arkanar, and discovers a society still trapped in its own
medieval era. Unable to interfere with the course of its
history, they can only watch in mounting horror as all
sparks of intelligent and independent thought are
mercilessly snuffed out by Arkanar s cruel rulers. Will they
remain enmired in their squalid existence for ever, or can
the visitors subtly nudge the more open-minded in the right
direction? Truly, it s hard to be a god.
Every year it's a delicate game of pick-and-choose when the
International Film Festival Rotterdam reveals its roster. With almost
400 titles to choose from, all you can see is bound to be a small
sample. But when I spotted Alexei German's Hard To Be A God (Trudno
Byt' Bogom), my interest piqued: a three hour long Russian science
fiction film, twelve years in the making, six of which were for the
Aleksei German's adaptation of the Strugatsky Brothers' 1964 novel is to
put it mildly a labor of love: six years actual shooting (from 2000 to
2006), another six of post-production, with German himself dying in 2013
(the film was completed under the supervision of his wife and son);
more, it's possible he'd been thinking of adapting the book through the
length of his long if sparse career (five feature films, from 1967
onwards)--perhaps longer (shortly after the book's publication, if you
believe some folks).
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
Hard to be a God gets an impressive transfer to Blu-ray from Arrow Academy. It's dual-layered with a high bitrate for the 3 hour feature. The film has a very fluid camera never really staying static for more than a second or two. The contrast and texture look quite adept. The 1080P supports some minor depth in the 1.66:1 frame. It's pristinely clean showcasing some hi-def detail in a few close-ups but we are at the mercy of the roaming camera. This Blu-ray looks super in-motion.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
Arrow utilize a DTS-HD Master 5.1 surround at 2095 kbps in the original Russian language. There are effects in the film and the depth of the audio transfer sounds impressive. The score is by Viktor Lebedev and further enhances the film's mud-drenched atmosphere. A classical selection may have been a good idea. There are optional English subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'FREE - playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.
Arrow add some great extras starting with a split-screen introduction by co-screenwriter Svetlana Karmalita running about 1/4 of an hour - in Russian with English subtitles. There is also, a kind of odd, 10-minute interview with Aleksei German Jr., who completed his father's film after his death. What I enjoyed were the next two video efforts (also produced by Arrow) - the first, The History of the Arkanar Massacre is a 1/2 hour appreciation of the film by Daniel Bird filling in many questions I had about the production. The second was also very illuminating - The Unknown Genius is 34-minutes with Michael Brooke looking at Aleksei German's creatively dazzling but politically hobbled career. Totally fascinating. There is also an extensive Stills gallery - divided into sub-sections with specific individuals in Actor photos, Film Stills or Production Stills. Lastly is a trailer and the package has a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Andrzej Klimowski and contains a 44-page liner notes booklet with photos, an essay by Jonathan Romney and interview with Aleksei German.
September 10th, 2015
About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.
Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who
focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I
find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.
Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD
Gary W. Tooze
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