By Mónica Delgado
What are the similarities, beyond their arguments, between On The Silver Globe and Hard to Be a God? Both in Andrzej Zulawski’s film, as in Aleksei German’s, science fiction is the point of departure to tell stories of scientific nature in two planets similar to Earth. In both films there are characters forced to live in new communities, or to establish them, where historical processes experienced on Earth are replicated under the same social and human dialectics. These are dystopian and pessimistic universes, where research and investigation become focus and narrative eye.
In On The Silver Globe, the fourth wall is constantly broken, but because the story is based on recovered footage recorded after the arrival of astronauts on that new planet. This footage style takes the dimension of testimony, in the manner of re-historicizing how human beings integrate and destroy themselves, in that intimate struggle between Dionysian levels. However, in Hard to Be a God, there is another feature for the filming gaze, but one that’s not that far from what Zulawski proposes: being part of a research process, where everyone is aware of that “character” that records everything, assisting Don Rumata in his exploration into the planet Askanar.
If the dissolution of the fourth wall is a learning process or a part of a convention (imagining that we’re immersed invisibly within the history that is revealed), its materialization in these two films responds to the need to make this new character tangible: in Zulawski’s film, as astronauts or survivors that record everything that happens, and in German’s, a ghostly assistant to Don Rumata’s gaze, who in some cases even looks at the camera, assuming its existence consciously.
Thus, the fourth wall becomes the need to create a new being that manages to convey another sensitivity of the times, avoiding the identification of the viewer as a recipient of that message, because the characters do not talk with “us” in front of the screen, but with a mediator, who records, apprehends and perpetuates. (Translation: Nicolás Carrasco)