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Cremator, The 
Written by: on March 17th, 2009

Theatrical Release Date: Czechoslovakia, 1969
Director: Juraj Herz
Writers: Ladislav Fuks, Juraj Herz
Cast: Rudolf Hrusínský, Vlasta Chramostová, Jana Stehnová, Milos Vognic, Zora Bozinová, Ilja Prachar, Eduard Kohout, Jirí Menzel, Míla Myslíková, Vladimír Mensík, Jirí Lír

DVD released: March 31st, 2009
Approximate running time: 100 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Rating: NR
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono Czech
Subtitles: English
DVD Release: Dark Sky Films
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $19.98

The screenplay for The Cremator was co-written by director Juraj Herz and Czech novelist Ladislav Fuks and it is based on his novel Spalovac mrtvol (The incinerator of corpses). The protagonist of The Cremator is a man named Karl Kopfrkingl who works at a crematory. Karl takes his job very seriously and believes that the deceased are set free of their earthy bonds when cremated. The plot also features a sub plot about the Nazi’s who are on the verge of and eventually invade Prague. The plot takes an ominous tone when a friend of Karl’s who has aligned himself with the invading Nazi’s, convinces Karl to embrace his own German heritage. The Nazi’s feed off of Karl’s insecurities and convince him that his wife who is Jewish and their children have been holding him back.

The film’s quickly establishes it’s in your face claustrophobic visual style which perfectly captures the film’s lead character Karl Kopfrkingl’s descent into madness. The plot while it is slow moving at first it picks up by the second act and it doesn’t’ let up from then on out. Another one of this film’s strength’s is the way it transitions from one scene to the next. Since the plot is told from Karl Kopfrkingl’s point of view it is not surprising that Rudolf Hrusínský tour de force performance as Karl Kopfrkingl is the only remarkable performance in the film. Rudolf Hrusínský has a Peter Lorre quality to him and his portrayal of Karl Kopfrkingl is reminiscent of Peter Lorre’s performance as the title character in Fritz Lang’s M. Composer Zdenek Liska serves up a nightmarish score that is equally haunting and beautiful. Ultimately The Cremator’s subversive plot is never subtle it the way that it shows the consequences of Fascism.

The DVD:

Dark Sky films presents, The Cremator in an anamorphic widescreen that retains the film’s original 1.66:1 aspect ratio. This progressive flagged transfer boasts strong black levels and details look crisp throughout. Outside of some very minor instances of print damage the source used for this transfer is in great shape.

This release comes with one audio option a Dolby Digital mono mix in the film’s native Czech language and removable English subtitles have been included. The audio is free of any distortion, hiss or any other audio defects. Dialog is clear and the film’s lush score sounds robust.

This release comes with no extra content.

Overall the strong audio/video presentation makes up for the lack of extra content.

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