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The Cremator
The Cremator
Actors: Rudolf HrusĂ­nsky, Jiri Lir, Ilja Prachar, Vlasta Chramostova
Director: Juraj Herz
Genres: Indie & Art House, Comedy, Drama, Horror, Mystery & Suspense, Military & War
UR     2009     1hr 40min

Karl Kopfrkingl (Rudolf Hrusinsky) works at a stately crematorium in Prague. Obsessed with his duties, he believes he is liberating the souls of the departed. With Nazi forces gathering at the Czech border, Karl descends i...  more »

     
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Movie Details

Actors: Rudolf HrusĂ­nsky, Jiri Lir, Ilja Prachar, Vlasta Chramostova
Director: Juraj Herz
Genres: Indie & Art House, Comedy, Drama, Horror, Mystery & Suspense, Military & War
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Comedy, Drama, Horror, Mystery & Suspense, Military & War
Studio: Dark Sky Films
Format: DVD - Black and White,Color,Widescreen
DVD Release Date: 03/31/2009
Release Year: 2009
Run Time: 1hr 40min
Screens: Black and White,Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 14
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Pre-Lynchian
Fanshawe61 | Japan | 01/25/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Quite an amazing film, this, by Juraj Herz. A kind of allegory of Nazism, nominally set during the Second World War, about an eccentric cremator (hypnotically played by Rudolf Hrusínský) who gradually becomes more and more megalomaniacal as the story proceeds, shot with deliberately expressionist techniques. It convincingly shows how people were able to make themselves believe in ideas of superiority and racial purity. Echoes of Polanski's 'Repulsion' are hard to resist, as well as comparisons with David Lynch, who you might imagine being influenced by it ... The excellent U.K. DVD (Second Run) has a nice little intro by the Quay Brothers. This review is based on my viewing of the U.K. Second Run DVD."
"Cremation is humane. It rids people of the fear of death. D
C. O. DeRiemer | San Antonio, Texas, USA | 07/02/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This odd, calm, unnerving Czech movie is not for the faint of heart. It's not for those who mind some slow stretches, either. Still, there is a masterful, upsetting, sad, frightening and crazy-as-a-loon ending that brings the movie back sharply into focus

Kopfrkingl is the director of the town's only crematorium, a business his father started 40 years earlier. The place is Czechoslovakia just before WWII. Nazis and their Czech collaborators are soon to take over. Kopfrkingl is a sincere man, a bit pudgy, in early middle age who is dedicated to the services he provides. He thinks of his crematorium almost as a temple. He's married to the woman he met at the panther cage in the zoo. He has two children. He dotes on them all. He has an elderly Jewish doctor check his blood every month to make sure, he says, that he has caught nothing from his corpses. He's probably more worried about catching something from his favorite prostitute he visits every month. He is teaching a young, new assistant the procedures of the crematorium. We see all this in the first twelve minutes of the movie...and if these first twelve minutes of Spalovac Mrtvol (The Cremator) don't capture you, then you're no connoisseur of the odd and unsettling. For that matter, if Rudolf Hrusinsky's portrayal of Kopfrkingl doesn't capture you with his quiet voice and solicitude, then you're no connoisseur of odd and unsettling characters.

"Cremation is humane," Kopfrkingl tells his 14-year-old son, Mili, his 16-year-old-daughter, Zina, and us, "It rids people of the fear of death. Dear children, do not fear cremation." Death is just the liberation of the soul. The purity of cremation brings purity to the soul. Only 75 minutes in the oven and the cremator has returned dust to dust, and without the messiness that the other way guarantees. It will be only a matter of time before Kopfrkingl's Czech friends with pure German blood show him that a new order is needed to bring purity and rectitude. His crematorium will give his life its own purpose and purity that was meant to be. An hour into the movie we learn how calm and monstrous he is.

Since Kopfrkingl is, of course, as crazy as a loon...a calm, soothing loon. He combs a corpse's hair, then without a thought combs his own hair with the same comb. Kopfrkingl's calmness comes from the certitude that what he does serves a noble purpose. There is tenderness but without compassion, morals but without morality, love but without commitment, belief but with nothing but derangement. Did I mention...his wife had a Jewish grandmother and his children are now classified as part Jews? To be cleansed, we all must die. "Frost burns the flowers' flush cheeks, and the Angel of Death takes his toll."

The Cremator is not at all a black comedy. It's more an ironic funeral dirge. Once we get the point that the director, Juraj Herz, sets up for us, there's not much more to develop. What's left is to watch how things play out. An hour into the movie we realize things will not play out well for almost anyone. In a strange and perhaps unplanned reversal of symbolism, the Nazi slaughter of Jews involving the efficient use of crematoriums becomes a metaphor for Kopfrkingl's looniness. Shouldn't it be the other way around? By the end of the movie, it is. Give this movie a chance and I think you'll be rewarded."
Pre-Lynchian
Fanshawe61 | Japan | 01/23/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Quite an amazing, chilling film, this, by Juraj Herz. A kind of allegory of Nazism, nominally set during the Second World War, though you never actually see any German soldiers or fighting, about an eccentric cremator (hypnotically played by Rudolf Hrusínský) who gradually becomes more and more megalomaniacal as the story proceeds, shot with deliberately expressionist techniques. It convincingly shows how people were able to make themselves believe in ideas of superiority and racial purity. Of all the films I've seen that attempt to show the twisted logic that enabled anti-Semiticism to grow and become the monster it did, this is one of the most compelling. Echoes of Polanski's 'Repulsion' are hard to resist, as well as comparisons with David Lynch, who you might imagine being influenced by it ... The excellent U.K. DVD (Second Run) has a nice little intro by the Quay Brothers."