Imagine an alien world—much like ours, except 1,000 years in the past—entrenched in a kind of alternate middle ages. This concept forms the core of German’s final film, a sci-fi mind-bender of epic proportions. Modern-day Russian scientists, led by Don Rumata (Leonid Yarmolnik) become marooned in the aforementioned world which is undergoing a purge of its intellectuals by its ruling class. Treated like gods but unable to tinker with the affairs of this mysterious place despite their “modern” perspective, Rumata and his colleagues seem helpless, forced to watch the alien land devour itself. Based on a novel by the acclaimed writers Boris & Arkadiy Strugatsky, German’s 15-years-in-the-making, posthumously-released fable is one of the dirtiest (in the sense of mud and grime) films ever made, but a true cinema experience like few others. “Pulses with intelligence, a mordant compassion, and yes, incredible wit.”—Glenn Kenny.