Leave the cannoli, take the movies

Review Blog

The Cremator

Posted by Jonathan Leithold-Patt on October 17, 2013 at 10:05 PM


Juraj Herz


IDEA:  Czechoslovakia in the 1930s. A cremator, Karel Kopfrkingl, sees his work as being divine liberation for suffering human souls. With the Nazis closing in on the country, his skewed philosophies grow even more deranged...

BLURB:  In the cinema of Madness, Rudolf Hrusínský’s cherubic, becalmed cremator counts as one of the most unhinged and terrifying of all psychopaths. Juraj Herz’s film itself, meanwhile, is perhaps the most masterful visual channeling of psychological degeneration ever put to screen. It moves relentlessly: shots pile onto and branch out of each other in furious Soviet Montage; scenes transition in mid-thought, imperceptibly, utterly mincing space and time; and wide-angle, fisheye lenses bend, bulge, and warp the plane in increasingly queasy ways. It almost doesn’t matter that the story, a forceful allegory of poisonous ideological sway, registers as comparatively slim. This is a virtuoso technical feat through and through – a textbook example of expressive editing, cinematography, and sound design, all in the service of an art form at its most breathlessly adventurous.

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