Hard To Be  God

Indiana University Cinema Bloomington, IN


Dr. Richard H. Durisen

Emeritus Professor, Astronomy Department, Indiana University; Former Research Fellow at NASA-Ames Research Center and an NRC Research Associate; Fulbright Fellow, Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics

Hard to Be a God— The Intersection of Science and Religion

A discussion of the intersection of science and religion, how they eventually merged to inform our worldview, and the role that each plays in defining the human experience.

Indiana University Cinema Bloomington, IN

Film Synopsis

Scientists are sent to the planet Arkanar to help a medieval civilization and rescue intellectuals.

Russian director Aleksei German’s sci-fi epic follows a group of scientists sent to the planet Arkanar to help the local civilization—which is in the medieval phase of its own history and oppressed by a brutal religion—find the right path to progress. Their task is a difficult one: they cannot interfere violently and in no case can they kill. Scientist Don Rumata (Leonid Yarmolnik) tries to save the local intellectuals from their punishment and cannot avoid taking a position. Treated by the planet's natives as a kind of divinity, Rumata discovers he is both godlike and impotent in the face of chaos and brutality.

About the Speaker

Dr. Richard H. Durisen joined the astronomy faculty at Indiana University in 1976. He received a BS in physics from Fordham University in 1967, and a PhD in astronomy from Princeton University in 1972. Dr. Durisen has had extended research leaves at NASA-Ames Research Center as an NRC Research Associate, and at Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics as Fulbright Fellow and an Alexander von Humboldt US Senior Scientist Awardee. He also has a long-standing interest in science fiction and film.