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 »
Tag Archives: Rudolf Hrusínský
Jiri Menzel of Closely Watched Trains fame directed the sweet little Czechoslovakian comedy/drama My Sweet Little Village. The life’s blood of the titular community is a collective farm. Marian Labuda is the farm’s truck driver, and also the
partner-protector of Janos Ban, who is the village idiot. Like everyone else in the village, Labuda has watched out for Ban and covered up his mistakes, but in recent weeks the situation has become intolerable and Labuda demands a new partner. As Ban prepares to be relocated to Prague, we cut away to various subplots, all of which lead to the same conclusion: the hapless Ban has always been the “glue” that has held the community together. A contrite Labuda heads for Prague to invite Ban to come back home. Originally titled Vesnicko Ma Stediskova, My Sweet Little Village was a 1986 Academy Award “best foreign-language picture” nominee.
~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide Read More »
This historical film by Hynek Bočan touches upon the indecisiveness of the Czech nation, ready to bend the backbone in face of foreign rule. Situating the story at the close of the Thirty Year War enabled the depiction of the misery of the people that affects even an impoverished aristocratic milieu. Rudolf Hrušínský appears here in the role of an indecisive knight, persuaded for a long time and in vain to join the anti-Habsburg movement. The story does not only captivate through the depiction of manifold human characters, intrigues and sycophancy, but also through the circumstances ruling over the devastated farmstead, sunk in mud and crudeness. One of the best films with an updating tendency has come into being here, rightly being named along the such greats as Kladivo na čarodějnice (Witches’ Hammer). Read More »
In a Prague shop, an assistant has been carrying on an affair with the dishonest, married manager. An emotionally repressed auditor with domestic problems of his own uncovers serious stock discrepancies. A test of loyalties and a questioning of values concludes in tragedy. Read More »
This castle has its own ghost – a mysterious White lady. She emerges from the painting on the wall when someone speaks out magic formula. White lady is a good ghost, she can make someone’s wishes true. Even if it is a new duct. But a miracle is not the thing that Communist leaders want in the town. Read More »
Long-Repressed Tale of Repression
The junk heap to which the characters of “Larks on a String” are consigned is a kind of paradise. Here, in the early 1950’s, former members of Czechoslovakia’s banished bourgeoisie are nominally engaged in forced labor, but in fact are free to play cards, discuss philosophy, joke sardonically about their situation and languish as they choose.
The men in this group — among them a professor who refused to destroy decadent Western literature, a saxophonist whose very instrument was considered an offense against the state and a lawyer who upheld the radical idea that a defendant ought to be allowed to plead his case — also spend a lot of time trading secret smiles and sidelong glances with a group of female prisoners nearby. The women, dressed in drably functional uniforms, nonetheless manage to look nymphlike as they laugh and frolic and hum little tunes. The setting is bleak and the season unspecified, but in spirit, it might as well be spring. Read More »
Episodic misadventures of people living in an isolated Czech holiday village. One man is collecting anything that is a bargain, including only shoes for the left leg (cheaper than buying them in a pair) while another enjoys watching TV with a goat in his coach. When hunters of one association shoot a boar in a school, an argument explodes because the school lies on the territory of another association of hunters. The school teacher, however, manages to reach a compromise: divide the boar meat between the two hunter camps. However, during dinner, the hunters again start a quarrel. Read More »