The Cremator

Juraj Herz, Czechoslovakia, 1969, 95 min.

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A rising political death cult entangles with personal morbidity in Juraj Herz’s deeply disturbing black comic parable The Cremator, set in 1930s Prague, where Nazi ideology hangs in the air as thick as the charnel fumes over the crematorium run by the troubled Karel Kopfrkingl (Rudolf Hrušínský in a skin-crawling performance). Adapting Ladislav Fuks’ novel with the author and utilizing the estimable talents of cinematographer Stanislav Milota, Herz connects the Czechoslovak New Wave groundswell to the legacy of German Expressionism in this macabre and harrowing work of psychological and social breakdown, banned after its 1969 debut only to re-emerge and garner deserved praise as a masterwork twenty years later after the crumbling of the Czechoslovak communist system.

A Janus Films release. New digital restoration undertaken by Karlovy Vary IFF, UPP and Soundsquare in collaboration with the National Film Archive and the State Film Fund. Made possible by a generous donation from Mr. and Mrs. Kučera.