Customer Reviews


7 Reviews
5 star:
 (6)
4 star:
 (1)
3 star:    (0)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 
Most Helpful First | Newest First

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Cremation is humane. It rids people of the fear of death. Dear children, do not fear cremation." That might go for all of us., 2 July 2009
By 
C. O. DeRiemer (San Antonio, Texas, USA) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Cremator [1968] [DVD] (DVD)
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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Mind-Bending Classic., 19 April 2007
By 
Mr. L. Price "szamanka" (London.) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Cremator [1968] [DVD] (DVD)
The Cremator is a film for everybody; It has buddhist mythology, holocaust symbolism, murder, feline abuse and more! Anyone who was enthralled by such films as Valerie and her week of wonders, daisies, goto-island of love, or the cinema of Zulawski and Jodorowsky, should definitely check this out. It is an essential title for lovers of the weird and wonderful.

The Second sight dvd is a gift to starved junkies of worthwhile cine-art. There are simply too many scenes and ideas in this film to sum up in a review, so buy it if you havent already.

The gifted Quay Brothers give a very good introduction to the film on the DVD, they talk about the fact that Juraj Herz was a frustrated puppeteer, and describe the lead actor (Rudolf Hrusinsky) as an "Uber-Puppet" for the director. Watching the film, you'll see why; he occupies virtually every frame of the film, one almost feels that the film is played in one continuous take, as Hrusinsky slithers his way from one bizarre situation to the next, like a well groomed, overweight lizard. One of the most extraordinary performances in cinema history.

In summary, Buy it! Buy It!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bosch Horror, 21 May 2012
By 
Dr. Delvis Memphistopheles "FIST" (London) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Cremator [1968] [DVD] (DVD)
Some films rely on chainsaws, gallons of red goo, offal, limbs hacked and multiple piercings to deliver the catalogue of full encased horror, others such as this are as subtle as Blue Mountain Coffee, a Single Malt, Cuban Cigar or a hand quickly dipping into the pocket and pulling away your life history. A noir film that depicts the distorted everyday horror of a warped bourgeois man who embarks upon a crematic will to power, played with remarkable human depth by the main actor, with stunning camera work that brims over Hitchcock, and takes the viewer to another psychological league with the everyday mundanity of death.

A man trapped in a ice flow tundra slowly turns from respectable family man with ethnic friends to slowly insidiously denouncing everyone around him, as he ascends his fantastical will to power. A self enclosed belief in a perverted sense of Buddhism, trapped within a maze of death, he sees disease all around and then converts it into coffin lids. Our non hero, is a man exhibiting the full range of an anti social personality disorder, finding solace within the comradeship offered by the Czech national socialist party. He also finds it within his job of incinerating the dead, laying them to rest. A particular morbidity is held with the deceased young girls, suggesting as Erich Fromm highlights the necrophiliac lifestyle emanating from embalming the dead. In fact the film could be seen as a filmic version to the Anatomy of Human Destructiveness.

Our non hero has to prove his Teutonic blood line to his blood comrades by eliminating all traces of perceived contamination. Dr. Bettelheim lets him know it is a "guided fiction" as all blood flows the same as burnt ashes of the duly departed. Everything turns to dust. Obsesesed with his blood and disease he visits Dr. Bettelheim to have regular check ups, attends Jewish ceremonies and basks in their morbid angelic renditions, trapped within himself he plots everyones demise. Seeing their incineration as freedom from a life of misery and death as the final release into another more harmonic world, he composes all the musical deathly scores around him. Mildly hysterical in its bleakness the pastiche of the belief in death is taken to the extreme, but within an everyday social mundanity, the film verges on the hilarious whilst being very deadly sincere.

Encased within a Central European malady this plays to the ghosts of the past, set between 1936-1939 it details how people succumbed to imposed power and then inflicted their burning vitriol onto those ascending the life path underneath them.

Whilst modernity is caught within a bubble of good tussling with evil in a childhood nursery rhyme battle, this swishes away and explores the psyche of national socialism and its inherent solipsism. Those trapped within its parameters become the unempathic killers swirling around their locked and encoded dreams.

Meanwhile all around them, the paradise they have created is founded upon a death drive they cannot see because they have placed the coffin lid on inner vitality. Hence the woman in black pursuing him is another component of his fragmenting grip on reality along with the Buddhist monk. Meanwhile out man gets promoted as he loses any contact with an emotional reality. A profound touch of genius.

This is the stark message of the female, power is built on madness. The definition of which is a loss of connection with anyone around and an immersion within a group fantasy= the true Gothic surreal horror.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pre-Lynchian, 25 Jan 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Cremator [1968] [DVD] (DVD)
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 Hrusínskż) 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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrifying, surrealist classic, 3 July 2008
This review is from: The Cremator [1968] [DVD] (DVD)
An insight into the kind of a madman, it's set in Prague sometime after (or during?) the Nazi occupation and tells the story of a professional undertaker and cremator (a wonderful, reptillian, creepy performance by Rudolph Hrusinsky) who's psychotic impulses erupt to the surface with increasing vigour.
Sparse and perfectly shot, this terrifying and gloriously blackly comic drama sears itself into the brain.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The collapse of a cultured man, 12 Oct 2006
By 
This review is from: The Cremator [1968] [DVD] (DVD)
I am almost inarticulate at how much I like this film. A truly terrifying examination of the perversion of principle. This film is perhaps the bleakest I have ever seen, more so then any Bergman as it is less psychological and more plausible.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Frighteningly real, 4 Sep 2012
By 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Cremator [1968] [DVD] (DVD)
The Cremator (Spalovač mrtvol) (Juraj Herz, 1969, 95')

A poltical film, based on a novel by Ladislav Fuks, screenplay by Herz and Fuks. Starring Rudolf Hrusínskż, music by Zdeněk Liska, editing by Jaromír Janáček. The film was selected as the Czechoslovakian entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 42nd Academy Awards, but was not accepted as a nominee. In 1972, it won the Festival de Cine de Sitges Best Film award, where it also received awards for its star Rudolf Hrusínskż and cinematographer Stanislav Milota.

The story is set in 1930s Prague, where the cremator Karel Kopfrkingl lives and works. The story combines features from black comedy and horror (comedy horror). It is often recognized as a follower of German Expressionist film and also as an example of the Czechoslovak New Wave. The film was banned after its premiere in 1969, and remained in the vault until the collapse of the communist system in Czechoslovakia in 1989. With the score of 90% on the Czech and Slovak Movie Database as well as praise from movie critics, The Cremator is considered to be one of the best movies ever made in Czechoslovakia.

The movie takes place during the political radicalization of Europe in the 1930s, which would also kill the "golden era" of the First Czechoslovak Republic and culminate in the establishment of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia by Nazi Germany. Spiritually, the movie is in the aftermath of the death of Thubten Gyatso, the 13th Dalai Lama in 1933. Karl Kopfrkingl works at a crematorium in Prague. Obsessed with his duties, he believes he is not just cremating the dead, but liberating the souls of the departed. With Nazi forces gathering at the Czech border, he descends into a mania that allows him to enact his disturbed beliefs.

There are only two editions available to the American market, the Second Run release of 2006, which includes an introduction by the Quay brothers and a booklet featuring an essay on the film, and the Dark Sky release of 2009 (with no additional features).

142 - The Cremator (Spalovač mrtvol) (Juraj Herz, 1969, 95') - 4/9/2012
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

The Cremator [1968] [DVD]
The Cremator [1968] [DVD] by Juraj Herz (DVD - 2006)
£8.22
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews