The acclaimed film adaptation by Juraj Herz of the novel by Ladislav Fuks (1923–1994) only treats part of the literary work. The story of Karel Kopfrkingl, a former soldier who had served in World War I, now a crematorium employee, an exemplary husband and father, is not just a horror comedy and drama that gives a burlesque account of a personality breakdown. The set of figures, seen by the author as a freak-show, keeps returning in various situations, so as to cast doubt on our conventional view of the world. It is ridiculous indeed – and tragic as well – to watch how the yearning for personal comfort and security can turn a man without opinion and spine into an active tool of destruction. Fuchs may have warned against World War II, while today his message can be interpreted in far more general terms.
Approximate running time:
1 hour, 50 minutes, no intermission.
Photo: Petr Neubert