Aleksey German directs this Russian-language sci-fi drama following the journey of a group of scientists who have been selected to travel to another planet. The planet Arkanar is similar to Earth but its civilisation hasnt progressed beyond their version of medieval feudalism and is a place built on violent acts and cruelty. The job of the scientists is not to interfere with the planets natural course but to protect a few select individuals, who have the abilities to change the planet for good, from harm. Germans film plunges us, nostril-first, into an alternative reality where the Renaissance never took place. In this permanently medieval state, the pock-marked peasantry have been left to roll around in their own filth, livestock and superstition, clutching to vain hopes their deaths wont come too soon or too nastily. A signature moment comes early when a passing nobleman drops a gold coin in a pile of horse droppings, which one excitable serf promptly hastens into his mouth: even if this lot had riches, they wouldnt know what to do with them.
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