Sergei Bondarchuk’s War and Peace (1966-67):
Criterion Blu-ray review

Napoleon surveys the field of battle in Sergei Bondarchuk's War and Peace (1966-67)

Criterion’s two-disk Blu-ray release of Sergei Bondarchuk’s War and Peace showcases a restoration of what may well be the most expensive film ever made. Truly epic in scale, this adaptation of Tolstoy’s revered novel balances awe-inspiring spectacle with emotionally charged character drama. The 7+ hour feature is supplemented with three hours of informative new and archival extras.

Aleksei German’s Hard to Be a God (2013)

Don Rumata (Leonid Yarmolnik) driven mad by his enforced role of detached observer in Aleksei German's science fiction epic Hard to Be a God (2013)

Hard to Be a God (2013), the final film of Russian director Aleksei German, more than a decade in the making, is a dense, obscure, visually stunning adaptation of a novel by the Strugatsky brothers. While German’s storytelling is extremely oblique, this depiction of a brutal medieval world which eventually corrupts Earth scientists who have traveled there to study a Renaissance which failed to happen, is realized with such visceral power that the viewer becomes immersed in the filth, madness and horror, occasionally gleaning brief moments of transcendent beauty.

Andrei Tarkovsky

Criterion’s recent Blu-ray release of Andrei Tarkovsky’s Solaris (1972) spurred me to watch the film again for the first time in almost a decade. I originally saw Solaris in London in 1975, my initial experience of Tarkovsky, and while I now recognize that it’s not his best work, I was enthralled. I’ve always liked films […] Read More