Movies based on Strugatsky books

As favorite Sci-Fi writers Strugatsky have always been a challenge for movie directors. Not only domestic, but also foreign movie directors have made a number of attempts on making a Sci-Fi movie based on some of Strugatsky works. None of them has succeeded. Why? Well, I think that it's the movie director's own fault. By trying to make "something of their own" of the writers' material they used as the basis for their movies, all the movie directors that made a "Strugatsky movie" have thrown out the most important part of any Strugatsky book they used - its originality. This is what another famous russian sci-fi writer - Kir Bylytchev - said about this:

"...I am convinced that Strugatsky are far enough original and that any attempt to make a conversation of their prose in to any other type of art is doomed to failure. But, the movie directors desperately do not want to take this as a fact! Strugatsky are a constant challenge to the greatest of them, not to mention "smaller" directors. And this is the situation that we have as the result: "small" movie directors do not even try to make something own of Strugatsky "on the screen". They are happy enough to see their own names in titles. And further they do what they can, without even thinking of Strugatsky. But greater movie directors dash in to a fight with Stugatsky, because they want to dominate them. This is impossible to achieve, but Tarkovsky or Sokurov are to proud to agree with that. And they start to film for themselves and about themselves, fighting Strugatsky at any point, because they can not acknowledge the fact, that any identical or worthy conversion of prose of Strugatsky in to the cinema is actually impossible. So what do we get? We get some sort of gene-manipulating experiments: let's disassemble a swan on the small feather and molecules, and let's make a cray-fish from it - it's so big and red!... For me it is probably more tranquilly, when small movie directors are "filming" Strugatsky. They bite off a small part and just run in to a corner to chew it. But a big director will torture himself, and at the same time will deprive Strugatsky months of their lives and kilometers of their nerves. And this is what I, as a Strugatsky fan, can not forgive him..."


Based on: "Definitely Maybe"

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"I swear before god that all of this was made by clean hands, with the great love for our motherland and regret about those troubles, that we have. My strongest belief is that the most complex and inconsistent circumstances, which exist in anyone's life, are always dissolved in every day life, because each morning we begin with cleaning our teethes, and at night just fall with our faces in to the pillow, without the knowledge of how to live further..." - Alexnder Sokurov.

Short contents of the movie: Young physician Dmitriy Maljanov works in a provincial city in Central Asia. Polilingual conditions, ancient exotics of the East and a different way of life whimsically co-exist here with the sleazy urbanism, creating a world, where logic of actions and psychology of people are inconsistent, and occasionally even unexplained.

Personal impressions from this picture: Didn't see it - therefore no personal impressions.


Based on: "Five Spoonfuls of Elixir"

Short contents of the movie: A writer - Felix Snegirev - becomes a potential companion of owners of "the water of life", which makes fife humans virtually immortal. But only fife, and Felix is the sixth. So he is forced to search for a way out of this moral dead end...

Personal impressions from this picture: In presence of certain weakness of direction (and may be just because of that), this movie stays the most close (compared to all other movies) to the main line of the book ("Fife spoons of elexir"). Though in this case it was highly simply to achieve - the books itself is monoplanned. The movie does not have that many special effects - this is psychology. Good selection of actors.


Based on: "Inspector Glebsky's Puzzle"

Short contents of the movie: Urgently called, the police inspector has arrived in a hotel, and didn't find any crime, but noticed some strangenesses occurring there. He has decided to leave, but a snow avalanche is crushed in the mountains, making it impossible for him to leave. Soon, inspector has found a body of a dead lodger. Everyone who lives in the hotel is under suspicion...

Personal impressions from this picture: A usual detective. It has absolutely nothing to do with the book it was based on. No mystics and feeling of terror (feelings, that often appear when you read this book for the first time).


Based on: "Roadside Picnic"

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Short contents of the movie: Stalker - a person, possessing professional knowledge of systems of obstacles and traps in so called "Area", where is a "room", inside of which anyone's most wanted desires becomes reality. Writer wants to find there his inspiration and Professor is dreaming of a discovery. Both of them, accompanied by Stalker, reach the desired "room"...

Personal impressions from this picture: Shortly: thinking (recalling the book) of one thing, watching about another may be a good way, but not anyone is able to perceive things this way. And more longer - the movie and the book greatly coexist together in one space of perception (at least it happens well enough in my head). This is one of the first Tarkovsky movies which appeared in my film collection.


Based on: "Monday Begins on Saturday"

Short contents of the movie: In the Wizardry Research Institute a great invention is made. It is called the Magic Stick. The Director of the Institute - witch Kira Shamahanskaja - decides to arrange a presentation of this great scientific invention at the New Year's evening. At the same time Aljenushka, an assistant in this Institute, is planning her wedding with Ivanushka, a worker at the Musical Tools Factory. But vice-director of the Institute - Sataneejev, who is crazy about Aljenushka, is doing everything to stop that wedding. He deceitfully misinforms Kira, that her husband, Fedor Kivrin, is in love with Aljenushka. Kira becomes extremely jealous and imposes Aljenushka the Spell of Cold Heart. And Ivanushka, with no knowledge of this fact, is on his way to the wedding...

Personal impressions from this picture: A funny film with good actors and good music. But to call it a filming - sorry, I just can't do that. However I decided that this movie is worth to be added to my personal film collection.


Based on: ------

Short contents of the movie: As a result a nonscheduled nucleus explosion on an US military base the biggest part of the Earth population was perished. The rest is doomed to a slow death. Among these survivors are children. At the same time, trying to hide the reason of the explosion, an insular state's administration want to use this catastrophe to start the third world war...

Personal impressions from this picture: According to my very dim memories - something wistfully-terrible with some claims to be a philosophical film.


Based on: "Hard to Be a God"

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Short contents of the movie: Another planet in the period of medieval times. An employee of the institute of experimental history from Earth, who is send under the name of noble don Rumata of Estor as a spy with a mission to contact the local resident of the institute, arrives in the city of Arkanar. But the resident perishes under an unlucky attempt to make a palace coup, and Rumata have to take his place as the resident. Soon he meets all the horrors of the medieval society - a peasant war, palace coups, mass executions. To continue to be an indifferent watcher of all these horrors turns out to be simply impossible...

Personal impressions from this picture: Typical example of what you will get if you'll throw out from a deeply philosophical book all the philosophy and try to make a good movie of that, what's left. The result - Peter Fleishman didn't succeed in making a philosophical movie, but, at the same time, he failed to make a thriller in "Conan the Barbarian" style. And that's not all - most of the actors failed on achieveing their goals. Only the main characters of "Hard to Be a God" - Rumata (performed by a polish actor Edvard Zentara) and Don Reba (gratefully performed by one of the best Russian actors - Alexandr Phillipenko) look like the real ones from the book. Only their acting, and some great dresses and other movie stuff (like beautiful desert city Arkanar that was constructed by a russian movie company) make this movie worth to be seen.

Written by Alexander Medinsky
Notice about "Wizards" is written by Mihail Gubin
Notice about "Es ist nicht leicht ein Gott zu sein" is written by Alexandr Usov
The data is taken from encyclopedia "Kinomania-97" (publisher "Kominfo")

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