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|Index||15 reviews in total|
Really unbelievable this film is stated as horror/comedy here on IMDb. Braindead is horror/comedy. This is pure horror. If Kopfrkringl's sick mind doesn't scare you, nothing does. This is a holocaust movie. But unlike Pianist or Shindler's list this movie is about cremator. About man who finds idea of burning thousands of murdered people every day very attractive. Director Juraj Herz have done brilliant piece of work by creating atmosphere of fear and madness so deep and believable. Because in fact there had to be some Kopfrkringl who actually done these things during WW2. This movie flows like honey (or some Lynch's work) with no boring spots and no disturbances in its rhythm. One scene traverses into another almost seamlessly. And in the end you can see mass murderer who thinks he is dalailama and you'll believe it's possible. That's why Cremator is REAL horror.
Juraj Herz's The Cremator, lost to Western audiences for many years before being recently rediscovered by the Brothers Quay, is an extraordinary surreal meditation on the political horror of 1930s Europe. Hrusínský's remarkable title performance literally and figuratively fills the screen, an alarming depiction of a deceptive and compulsive character slowly inhabited by Nazi political dogma. In some respects The Cremator recalls Polanski's claustrophobic nightmare Repulsion, though this is arguably even further out than Polanski could manage. Utterly devastating but incredibly watchable (the 90 minute running time passes in a heartbeat), this is a real find. I posted this comment because I was aware that the only other comment on the film was negative, and I really do believe it is worth your time checking this out.
This film of Juraj Herj, like Morgiana, has a decidedly gothic feel. Karl
Kopfrkingl, the owner of a modern crematorium gets creepier by the minute.
At the beginning of the film at a family outing we see a snow leopard,
peacock, tiger, snake, and a lion - Karl makes a comment that "cages are
mute persons." Later at a fair everyone else seems to be having a
time; Karl looks quite glum. But when they enter a "chamber of horrors"
exhibit, he's quite happy and intrigued while everyone else is shocked (it
reminds me of one of Charles Addams' cartoons with everyone in a movie
theatre crying, except for one man who seems positively overjoyed by the
In a sense, Karl lives for dying - or at least lives to compassionately cremate as many people as he can, releasing and purifying their souls for another life. He seems to have a bit of an obsession with Tibetan Buddhism, carrying with him a tome on the Dalia Lama's palace and Buddhist customs.
It doesn't take much flattery and cajoling by Nazi sympathizers to put Karl totally over the edge of sanity . . .
Quite an incredible film, with good use of wide-angle lenses and closeups to indicate Karl's increasing derangement.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"The Cremator" is a film that is dark and unforgettable with its horrifying images. At times it's an extremely dark comedy, but mostly a psychological horror satire. In Wold War II Czechoslovakia, Kopfrkingl is a rich and wealthy cremator. He's obsessed with his job to the point of sadistic insanity. He thinks that cremating people is a way to free them for the afterlife. His hunger for power causes him to join up with the Nazi occupiers. That's when he really goes nuts, he even thinks his family needs to be killed; including his son Milli for being too flamboyant. He takes over the crematory by murdering the head director. He longs to build a larger crematorium, where he can pretty much dispose of anyone not living up to the Reich's standards. Again in his own sick mind, he wants to free them for the afterlife and reincarnation. The film is extremely disturbing in it's psychological atmosphere. Director Juraj Herz builds tension as the film progressively gets worse as it goes on. Amazing cinematography, surreal images and a hallucinatory feel. Herz has created a masterpiece that still remains undiscovered to many. Also the film was pretty groundbreaking for its time with its sexual content and macabre violence. So watch "The Cremator"; it's worth tracking down a copy.
This film is everything else but the comedy! It shouldn't be funny in any case! It builds up an atmosphere of uncertainty and fear in an excellent way. The Rudolf Hrusinsky's lead character is superb. He is a kind of psychopathic personality blindly struggling for the maintaining order and meeting of commands regardless any consequences. In the context of Nazism it leads to destruction of his own family - his wife is a Jew. Not surprising that Kopfrkingl is on stage during every second of the film. The film is about his thoughts, reveals his mind processes, observes his perverted logic. A knowledge of the II World War history as well as Ladislav Fuks's (writer) genial artwork is helpful to understand this masterpiece.
This film is hypnotic. The soothing voice of the lead character, coming
out of his cherubic always sweetly smiling face, almost lulls the
viewer into a serene calm--if not for the fact that we know in our guts
that this is the calm a cobra induces in its prey before the kill. This
is, after all, Czechoslovakia on the eve of being taken over by Hitler,
and the main character runs a crematorium. We know what is coming next.
And yet, we cannot take our eyes from the screen; we are filled with
Like the best of Fellini, the director, Juraj Herz, frames virtually every scene perfectly; a collection of stills taken from this black-and-white masterpiece could fill a photographic art gallery with a distinguished collection indeed.
How could the holocaust ever have happened in the middle of the most "civilized" culture in the world, the cradle of elegant music? How could rational "civilized" human beings have abetted this monstrosity? This film provides a fable that can help us answer these most important questions. But do not think this movie is some boring treatise on the banal roots of evil. It is a very entertaining horror film that will keep you spellbound.
"The Cremator" is Karel Kopfrkingl, played beautifully by Rudolf
Hrusinsky, a man who fought for Germany in the Great War (World War I)
and is now a crematorium operator in Czechoslovakia in the 1930s. His
friend, a member of the Nazi party, tries to steer him towards fighting
for Germany again, but will Karel give up his comfortable life and
I wasn't sure what I was getting into with this one. When I found out that Dark Sky was releasing it, I instantly found myself interested. And despite having no knowledge of Czech horror or Czech cinema in general, Dark Sky did not disappoint. "The Cremator" truly is a forgotten classic. Who knew that as early as 1968 that Czechoslovakia was releasing films that were well-scripted, well-acted and most interestingly... extremely well-shot with quality footage (decades ahead of Italian cinema).
Actor Rudolf Hrusinsky and director Juraj Herz are a perfect combination when combining black comedy, morbidity, and what the box describes as "surrealism" and "expressionism". The surrealism is evident: the first ten minutes contain many camera shots that warp our sense of safety and familiarity, calling to mind for me "The Holy Mountain". I can't think of another film that is even close to these two in this regard.
The pace is steady, with Karel's descent a gradual, but well-paced journey for the viewer. Can a "sensitive" man be transformed into a Jew-hating, violence-loving monster who can turn away from his family? I won't say how far he goes, but some key scenes involve a carnival's haunted wax museum and the unusual execution of some cats. And that's just the beginning.
Of course, those who don't like black and white films or subtitles are going to be scared away. You are missing out, my friends. "The Cremator" is visually stunning and grips you with a dead, icy hand that cannot be denied. 2009 has had a handful of good films released, but most are stinkers. "Cremator" is no stinker... this film has been embalmed perfectly and is as fresh today -- if not more fresh -- than it was on the day it was filmed. Do not rent a copy -- buy one!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
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.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It's clear almost from the very beginning that the main character (THE CREMATOR himself) is... a tad odd. He's "too good to be true." This proves to be the case, in short order: his ghoulish fascination with a wax museum's chamber of horrors gives us an unsettling glimpse beneath his carefully-constructed facade. He takes too much delight, too, in "releasing the spirits of the dead" in his so-called "temple of the dead." When it's mentioned that the Nazis are nearing the small town, he's easily (perhaps much too easily) persuaded to join derr Cause. (It's this unsettling willingness to pitch in and help in the mass murder of innocent victims that both sounds the lone false note in the otherwise sound narrative while likewise lending the proceedings an absolutely unforgettable ghoulishness. The Cremator seems too easily convinced, on the one hand; yet, it also seems to be perfectly in keeping with his all too clearly delineated schizophrenic character.) His own, personal Final Solution to the question of what to do about the other members of his family makes this one a horror film to the (rotten) core and, like Alfred Hitchcock's PSYCHO before it, THE CREMATOR is superbly crafted. Recommended.
"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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