The Cremator isn’t actually a smut film. No, come back! It’s not exactly surrealist, horror, expressionist or comedy either. It’s all of these and more.
|The Cremator. You knew that.|
Juraj Herz’s masterpiece of Czech New Wave cinema was suppressed by the Soviet authorities soon after its release in 1968 and was all but forgotten until a dvd reissue a few years ago allowed a new audience to discover its stunning images and pitch black humour almost 40 years later.
|It's pronounced Laydeez-luv-a...|
The wonderful animated title sequence bears strong resemblance to Svankmajer and Borowczyk, and has recently been overtly referenced in Peter Strickland’s Berberian Sound Studio.
|The best little whorehouse in Praha|
|Wife in the kitchen, whore in the bedroom|
The tense political atmosphere in Prague causes Kopfrkingl to feel under increasing psychological pressure. His pal Reineke stokes this further with references to the National Socialist anti-Semitic propaganda and suggestions that it would be wise to embrace one’s Germanic roots, even if none exist, and that the Jews are the cause of all society’s ills. The temptation of dirty postcards and promise of blow jobs for those who conform to the new regime is alluring.
|What's going on under the table?|
|I'll just have a quick peep|
|Insert Sid James sound effect of choice here|
|Tales of the Unexpected meets Zardoz?|
He recognises his madness is complete and encounters a hallucination of himself as a Buddha and the film ends as he finally untethers himself from reality, transcends his murderous criminality and drifts into a vision of the Potala Palace, the Dalai Lama's Tibetan residence.
|Kimono my place|
|Giving a ghost the slip|
|Save the Lhasa dance for me|
Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove has stark monochrome and black humour; Polanski's Repulsion has a nightmare descent into mental collapse; Svankmajer has surrealism and expressionist design: The Cremator has all of this and more - and a little touch of smut magic. A must see.