Let me pass on some words from the Aleksei German obituary in Guardian February 26 (written by Ronald Bergan) – he died 74 year old after he
… for more than 10 years, (German) had been struggling to complete History of the Arkanar Massacre, based on the 1964 science-fiction novel Hard to Be a God by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky. Set on another planet, it is an allegory about the Stalin era that might also be applied, to a certain extent, to Putin’s Russia. It was finally nearing completion when German died. According to his son, Aleksei, a superb film-maker in his own right, there remains only some re-recording of sound and editing to be resolved…
Let’s hope so, because what Antoine Cattin and Pawel Kostomarov show in their film (finished before his death) about German, shot almost exclusively on the set, witness that another masterpiece might be on its way from the hands of a director, who made 6 films, half of them being shelved during Soviet times.
Cattin is the one who tells the story about his meeting with German and with Russia after he (Cattin) had left Switzerland. In an intelligent way, through a chaptering of the film, he puts in his own interpretation of what he sees on the shoot of German’s film and the reality of Putin’s Russia. He makes an interview with German in the film, and German says that fascism will always be possible in Russia, although he does not see current signs in that direction.
Otherwise the film is a fascinating insight to a great director (helped by his wife with whom he also argues quite a lot) and his way of working with a lot of footage taken from the screening view post of German. He is constantly angry or grumpy around something that does not function as is his main actor… would say that this film could make weak directors-to-be consider once more if they have chosen the right profession! For the rest of us – please finish the film, and please cinematheques give us a retrospective of German’s work, which by many have been equaled to the one of Tarkovsky.