The Cremator

Address Generála Píky, Praha 6 – Dejvice
Origin Czechia
Original name Spalovač mrtvol
Movie genre Drama, Horror, Thriller, Czech
Entry CZK 80
Venue's website
Length 96 min
Director Juraj Herz
Links IMDB
Release 1968
Ranking 84 %

Performing: Rudolf Hrušínský, Vlasta Chramostová, Jana Stehnová, Miloš Vognič, Ilja Prachař, Zora Božinová, Eduard Kohout, Jiří Lír, Dimitrij Rafalský, Jan Vlček, Václav Halama

Mr Kopfrkingl is an affectionate husband and loving father. In his spare time he studies books on Tibet and listens to classical music. At work he is always punctual and meticulous, even pedantic, and he works in the Temple of Death, as he calls Prague's crematorium. He is convinced that cremation is the best way to free the soul, a clean and reliable process that takes a mere 75 minutes. He is universally liked, however strange some people think he is. But come the late 1930s and no one notices that Kopfrkingl is becoming obsessed. The Germans enter Prague, but there are no changes in Mr Kopfrkingl's life. One day a friend from the years of the First War, Willi Reinke, visits him. 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.

Juraj Herz's The Cremator is sometimes categorised as a horror film inspired by German Impressionism. However, such a classification seems too simple. In fact, it is a black comedy with a strong satirical undertone, relating as much to the situation in the times of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, when a pedant and lover of cleanliness is transformed into a merciless beast, as to the political situation at the time the film was made – when Soviet tanks entered Prague, destroying the achievements of the Prague Spring. Noteworthy is the outstanding performance of Rudolf Hrušinski, who builds with the character of Mr Kopfrkingel the archetype of a representative of the Czech middle class. While the creation aroused admiration, expressed, among other things, by the award at the Sitges festival (where the film itself and the cinematography were also awarded), the Czech authorities took the film off the screens and condemned it to 20 years of shelving.


Moravská Ostrava a Přívoz, Pavilon The Cremator

Movie trailer

Spalovač mrtvol  Official trailer  0 5 1:21 13 ×

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