|Directed by||Juraj Herz|
|Written by||Ladislav Fuks
|Music by||Zdeněk Liška|
|Editing by||Jaromír Janáček|
|Distributed by||Central Office of Film Distribution|
|Running time||95 minutes|
The Cremator (Czech: Spalovač mrtvol) is a 1969 Czechoslovak horror comedy/drama film directed by Juraj Herz, based on a novel by Ladislav Fuks. The screenplay was written by Herz and Fuks. 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 Hrušínský 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 90,2% 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 as well as a referential cult film.
The movie takes place against the backdrop of the political radicalization of Europe during the 1930s, more specifically the demise of the golden era of the First Czechoslovak Republic and the establishment of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia under Nazi Germany. Spiritually, the movie takes place 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.
- Rudolf Hrušínský as Karel Kopfrkingl
- Vlasta Chramostová as Lakmé; Dagmar
- Jana Stehnová as Zina
- Miloš Vognič as Mili
- Zora Božinová as Erna Reinkeová
- Ilja Prachař as Walter Reinke
- Eduard Kohout as Bettleheim
- Míla Myslíková as woman in hat
- Vladimír Menšík as husband of woman in hat
- Jiří Menzel as Dvořák
- Jiří Lír as Strauss
There are only two editions available to the American market, the Second Run release, released on April 10 2006, which includes an introduction by the Quay brothers and a booklet featuring an essay on the film and the Dark Sky release, released on March 31 2009, which includes no additional features.
- List of submissions to the 42nd Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film
- List of Czechoslovakia submissions for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film
- Margaret Herrick Library, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences