Goat Boy wrote:
This is billed as a “comedy horror drama” on Wikipedia but I have to say I didn’t laugh but then maybe Czech humour is an acquired taste. The “humour” is very black anyway which is hardly surprising considering the films subject matter. I felt certain things were slightly over my head in relation to the films context. It took me a wee while to figure out for example that it was actually set prior to WW2 although I was aware that there was a German community living in the Sudetenland at the time (cheers Higher history!) who were favourable towards the Reich. Sometimes you get that when you are watching movies from countries you are largely ignorant about.
Karel Kopfrkingl is a cremator, devoted to his work and family and living a comfortable, middle class life in Prague. He’s an odd fella though who has an air of sociopathic calm about him and an interest in Tibetan Buddhism. In fact he believes in reincarnation and sees himself as some kind of noble figure liberating people from the drudgery and suffering of the mortal realm and thereby enabling samsara through cremation. An encounter with a Czech Nazi convinces him that he has German blood and that his wife and kids are part Jewish as Karel increasingly loses touch with reality and begins to hatch some kind of grand scheme to liberate thousands of suffering souls. Eventually and tragically the Nazis racial ideology combines with his Buddhist beliefs leading him to his own “final solution”.
There’s lots of odd angles and expressionistic touches throughout and it’s stylishly done with a very good performance from the main actor whose measured personality contrasts perfectly with the increasing madness on display. Apparently it’s highly rated in the Czech Republic and is something of a cult film and it’s easy to see why. It still felt fresh to me and alien too. Different, you know.
If this is what the Czech new wave was producing then I should really check out more.
That might be one of the more "out there" Czech new wave films, although in my experience they all (well, most) tend to show huge formal creativity and a style that is often quite expressionistic and angular. Glad you enjoyed!