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The Cremator [1968] [DVD]

4.7 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Rudolf Hrusínský, Vlasta Chramostová, Jana Stehnová, Milos Vognic, Zora Bozinová
  • Directors: Juraj Herz
  • Writers: Juraj Herz, Ladislav Fuks
  • Format: PAL, Black & White, Anamorphic, Widescreen, Mono
  • Language: Czech
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 15
  • Studio: Second Run
  • DVD Release Date: 10 April 2006
  • Run Time: 95 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 35,654 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)
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Product description

Product Description

The Cremator (Spalovaè mrtvol) A film by Juraj Herz Czech Republic / 1968 1972 Sitges Film Festival / Best Actor - Rudolf Hrusínský

Juraj Herz’s filmThe Cremator has been described in many ways - as surrealist-inspired horror, as expressionist fantasy and as a dark and disturbing tale of terror. Combining horror with humour, this brilliant black comedy, set in Prague during the Nazi occupation, tells the story of Karl Kopfrkingl an increasingly deranged cremator for whom the period offers great possibilities for acting out his psychotic impulses as contribution towards the’salvation of the world’.

Based on the novel of the same name by Ladislav Fuks the film centers around a truly chilling lead performance by Rudolf Hrusinsky as the demonic, death obsessed Karl Kopfrkingl. He is the owner of a crematorium in the early stages of the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia who finds in the situation an opportunity to fulfill his business ambitions, justify his anti-semitism and exert his obsession for control. His discovery that his wife has 'impure' blood sends him a psychopathic spiral that leads to the murder of her and their son.


" .. an outlandish movie...sharp, radical and politically incorrect...an unequalled work that pictures horror in a different way " -- Brussels International Festival of Fantastic Film

"(The film has) a formally inventive nightmare texture which is still striking almost four decades later" -- Senses of Cinema

"An enjoyably strange, undoubtedly original and occasionally terrifying film" -- Channel 4 Film Guide

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Its one of the best films I have ever seen in my life. Not for mainstream viewers.
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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.
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By Dr. Delvis Memphistopheles TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 21 May 2012
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
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.
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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 Hrusínský, 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 Hrusínský 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.
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