As Hollyoaks (now available in HD) blares out of my tellybox, I’m so so glad that films like The Cremator exist in my world. Hollyoaks may like to break the fourth wall every now and again, like a film student who just found out what “breaking the fourth wall” means, but it’s a prime example of our trash TV culture. “Made for students, by students”, is a phrase I hear oft repeated about it. Considering we are knee deep in recession, one does wonder whether our film and television culture will cheapen further as broadcasters run out of money…
Anyway, back to the good stuff. The Cremator is a weirdly funny and horrifically dark film from ’60s Czechoslovakia set during WWII, about a man working in a crematorium who’s already pretty fucking unhinged before he becomes a blimin’ Nazi. Obviously, this only fuels him more and somewhat alienates him from his “part-Jewish” family. I won’t spoil it for you, but, er, people do die.
If you don’t like black & white films, or foreign films, or surreal dark comedies, then this isn’t the film for you. Frankly, this film is not for many people. It’s so dark that many fail to see the humour in it. In fact, calling it “comedy” is actually hotly debated on the IMDB forums, which in itself is quite funny. The influences from Luis Buñuel are quite apparent and the surrealist element is pretty strong but it keeps a narrative in check making it an enjoyable, if not confusing, watch.This is a beautifully shot and disturbing film that will amaze and shock you. If you like that sort of thing.
I’ll leave you with the final scene from the film in a bid to convince you to seek it out yourself. Basically in this scene, the cremator is about to murder his daughter because of the whole part-Jewish business (apparently she wouldn’t be allowed to go to school) and when she realises this, instead of running for the open bloody door she heads straight for between the coffins in true teen-horror style. Luckily though, he gets distracted from killing her by a vision of himself dressed as a Tibetan monk. As you do. Due to a lack of a subbed version on YouTube, here it is in Czech: