This adaptation of a 1967 novel is regarded as one of director Juraj Herz’s greatest films. The dark and absurdist story touches on issues of Jewish identity and alienation in a brutal world. Set in the 1930s, the protagonist is crematorium worker Karel Kopfrkingl, who loves his work and family – in fact, he loves them so much that he decides to kill his wife and two children in a loving and professional way, transformed as he is by the emerging ideology of Nazism. The outstanding qualities of the film are largely down to the performance of the lead actor, Rudolf Hrušínský, who masterfully plays an ordinary man turning into a psychopathic monster. The film’s mix of black comedy and its vivid evocation of the expressionism of the Germany of another era makes The Cremator one of the most important films of the Czechoslovak New Wave.
The film was digitally remastered in 2019.
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