Previously at the ICA - Films

Juraj Herz, The Cremator, 1968

10 Years of Second Run: Peter Strickland selects and introduces The Cremator

24 Sep 2015

“An enjoyably strange, undoubtedly original and occasionally terrifying film”
Channel 4 Film Guide
"(The film has) a formally inventive nightmare texture which is still striking almost four decades later" Senses of Cinema
"Herz's surreal political chiller... deeply unsettling" Time Out

The film is introduced by Peter Strickland.

Winner of Best Actor (Rudolf Hrušínský) at 1972 Sitges Film Festival

Juraj Herz's film The Cremator has been described in many ways - as surrealist-inspired horror, as expressionist fantasy, as a dark and disturbing tale of terror.

This brilliantly chilling film, a mix of Dr Strangelove and Repulsion, is set in Prague during the Nazi occupation. It tells the story of Karl Kopfrkingl (Rudolf Hrušínský), a professional cremator, for whom the political climate of the time allows free rein to his increasingly deranged impulses for the 'salvation of the world'.

The Cremator

Peter Strickland explains his choice:

“A friend bought me a DVD of Juraj Herz's The Cremator and from the opening seconds I fell under the spell of this curious mantra of death. There's too much to recommend: the brilliant detail and delirious wide angles of Stanislav Milota's cinematography, Zdeněk Liška's choral reveries, the brutal collage of the opening credits, Jaromir Janacek's wonderfully disconcerting editing and of course, Rudolf Hrušínský in elated form as the errant and suspiciously health-conscious Mr. Kopfrkingl, the titular Cremator. Both ludicrous and malevolent, The Cremator is an irresistibly septic meditation on death and the hideous lure of fascism. I've never seen a film display such morbid euphoria.

Second Run are a lifeline for anyone seeking out films mostly hidden from the Western radar. In only ten years, the label has acquired a staggering collection of breathtaking films from the Warsaw Pact countries, but also further east and occasionally right under our nose within the UK. Thanks to Second Run, I've become familiar with the work of visionary directors such as František Vláčil, Raya Martin and have rediscovered many more.”

Peter Strickland is an award-winning British film director and screenwriter. His films include Katalin Varga (2009), Berberian Sound Studio (2012) and The Duke of Burgundy (2014).

The Cremator, dir. Juraj Herz, Czechoslovakia 1968, 95 mins, Czech with English subtitles

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