This fall Anthology presents two series focusing on Eastern European science fiction and its intersection with the cinema. First up is legendary Polish writer Stanisław Lem, whose importance within film history is above all attributable to his having provided the source for Andrei Tarkovsky’s SOLARIS. But of course SOLARIS was not the only science fiction novel Tarkovsky adapted for one of his masterpieces. Just a year earlier he released STALKER, whose source was the novel ROADSIDE PICNIC by the brothers Arkady and Boris Strugatsky. Though STALKER alone would have been enough to secure the Strugatsky brothers’ renown within the realm of cinema, that film was far from the only onscreen adaptation of their work, nor even a singular instance of their writing attracting the attention of great auteurs: the 1974 novel DEFINITELY MAYBE provided Aleksandr Sokurov with the source for his early feature DAYS OF ECLIPSE (1988), while Aleksei German spent the last fifteen years of his life working on a monumental adaptation of their 1964 novel, HARD TO BE A GOD.
This is not to suggest that Arkady and Boris Strugatsky are in need of the cinema to ratify their work; within Russia their writings have been both widely read and greatly acclaimed for decades, while, happily, new English translations of their work have been appearing with increasing frequency here in the U.S. in the past several years (thanks largely to the efforts of Melville House and Chicago Review Press). Nevertheless, the relationship between the Strugatsky brothers’ writings and the cinema is one that has been mutually enriching, and this series aims to demonstrate this by showcasing not only STALKER, DAYS OF ECLIPSE, and German’s HARD TO BE A GOD, but also several other lesser-known but worthy adaptations from Estonia, Russia, and Germany.
Special thanks to Yulia Belova (Gosfilmofond); Brian Belovarac (Janus Films); Mathias Bollinger (Deutsches Filminstitut); Peter Fleischmann; Jonathan Hertzberg (Kino Lorber); Juha Kindberg (KAVI); Greete Põrk; and the Film Archives of the National Archives of Estonia.