Czech filmmakers have several times been galvanised by the writings of Jaroslav Havlíček. The result in most cases was a film that merged the quality of the literary template and the personality of the particular filmmaker, whether it be Barbora Hlavsová (1942) directed by Martin Frič, Prokletí domu Hajnů (The Curse of the Hajns’ House, 1988) directed by Jiří Svoboda, or Jaromil Jireš’s Helimadoe (1992). However, the most famous adaptation of a Havlíček novel is the psychological drama Petrolejové lampy (Oil Lamps). The film is based on an eponymous novel first published in 1935 as Vyprahlé touhy (Parched Desires) and released again in 1944 following revisions and a change of title. The motion picture was made in 1971 according to a screenplay from Lubor Dohnal, Václav Šašek and Juraj Herz, the last of whom also directed the film.Read More »
1971-1980Czech RepublicDramaJuraj Herz
1961-1970ArchitectureArthouseCzech RepublicDramaJuraj Herz
Czechoslovak New Wave iconoclast Juraj Herz’s terrifying, darkly comic vision of the horrors of totalitarian ideologies stars a supremely chilling Rudolf Hrušínský as the pathologically morbid Karel Kopfrkingl, a crematorium manager in 1930s Prague who believes fervently that death offers the only true relief from human suffering. When he is recruited by the Nazis, Kopfrkingl’s increasingly deranged worldview drives him to formulate his own shocking final solution. Blending the blackest of gallows humor with disorienting expressionistic flourishes—queasy point-of-view shots, distorting lenses, jarring quick cuts—the controversial, long-banned masterpiece The Cremator is one of cinema’s most trenchant and disturbing portraits of the banality of evil.Read More »
1971-1980Czech RepublicFantasyHorrorJuraj Herz
A more horrific and gloomy version of The Beauty and the Beast. Julie, the youngest daughter of a bankrupt merchant, sacrifices her life in order to save her father. She goes to an enchanted castle in the woods and meets Netvor, a bird-like monster. As Netvor begins to fall in love with Julie, he must suppress his beastly urge to kill her.Read More »
A mill owner in the Sudetenland and his family’s lives are changed as Europe heats up in 1938.
Habermann (Czech: Habermannův mlýn) is a 2010 Czech-German-Austrian drama film directed by Juraj Herz. In the story, a German mill owner in the Sudetenland and his family’s lives are changed as Europe heats up in 1938.
The German-Czech-Austrian production “Habermann” is being marketed — with the tagline “War is over; vengeance has begun” — as a look at a corner of history that is little known in America: the expulsion of millions of ethnic German civilians from parts of Europe after World War II. It’s a tricky tale to tell; the film’s opening and closing scenes of Germans in Czechoslovakia being rounded up and loaded onto trains consciously echo the familiar imagery of Jews being sent to Nazi concentration camps.Read More »