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The Cremator (1969)
"Spalovac mrtvol" (original title)

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Kopfrkingl enjoys his job at a crematorium in Czechoslovakia in the late 1930s. He likes reading the Tibetan book of the dead, and espouses the view that cremation relieves earthly ... See full summary »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Rudolf Hrusínský ...
Vlasta Chramostová ...
Lakmé / Dagmar
Jana Stehnová ...
Milos Vognic ...
Zora Bozinová ...
Ilja Prachar ...
Walter Reinke
Eduard Kohout ...
Jirí Menzel ...
Míla Myslíková ...
Hloupá zena
Vladimír Mensík ...
Manzel hloupé zeny
Jirí Lír ...
Václav Stekl ...
Hudebník / rozhodcí boxu / majitel panoptika
Helena Anýzová ...
Bledá dívka
Jindrich Narenta ...
Nacista ve smokingu
Marie Rosulková ...
Zena dozadující se rakvicky


Kopfrkingl enjoys his job at a crematorium in Czechoslovakia in the late 1930s. He likes reading the Tibetan book of the dead, and espouses the view that cremation relieves earthly suffering. At a reception, he meets Reineke, with whom he fought for Austria in the first World War. Reineke convinces Kopfrkingl to emphasize his supposedly German heritage, including sending his timid son to the German school. Reineke then suggests that Kopfrkingl's half-Jewish wife is holding back his advancement in his job. Written by Will Gilbert

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Drama | Horror | Thriller


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Release Date:

14 March 1969 (Czechoslovakia)  »

Also Known As:

The Cremator  »

Filming Locations:

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?


Czechoslovakia's official submission to 42nd Academy Award's Foreign Language in 1970. See more »


[first lines]
Kopfrkingl: My sweet. This is the blessed spot where we met 17 years ago. Only the leopard is new. Kind nature long ago relieved the other of his shackles. You see, dear, I keep talking of nature's benevolence, of merciful fate, of the kindness of God. We judge and criticize others, rebuke them. But what about ourselves? I always have the feeling that I do so little for you.
See more »


Featured in Golden Sixties: Juraj Herz (2009) See more »

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User Reviews

Brilliant, Contemporary and Cruel.
22 December 2010 | by (New York) – See all my reviews

"The Cremator" is a once "lost" film from the Prague Spring. An exquisite evisceration of fascism, desire and all things political, the film was hidden in the vaults of FAMU (the Prague Film Academy) as an agricultural film (along with many others) after the Soviet tanks rolled in. "The Cremator" was revealed to the world in pristine condition and with force only a few years ago, and its message is for today. Absurd, frightening and beautiful - the film reminds me not so much of its 1930's, pre-Nazi setting as today's America.

Kafka is never far from "The Cremator" - the central character evokes "The Trial" from the point of view of a willful bureaucrat rather Joseph K., and therein lies its power and clarity: what if we agreed to willful ignorance and xenophobia simply to get ahead and be accepted? Errol Morris's "Mr. Death" is the only Western Film that comes close to examining this issue - "The Cremator" goes deep into the heart of the very human mechanism that made the Holocaust possible - perhaps inevitable, given the forces at play. This is a dark and important film.

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