Juraj Herz | Offscreen
In dire need of reevaluation are the fantasy-filled gems of the Slovakian Juraj Herz (°1934), a contemporary of Jan Švankmajer, Věra Chytilová and Miloš Forman. In 1969, Herz went down in film history with the compelling “The Cremator”, a haunting and achingly astute denunciation of the communist regime that took hold of the nation after the Prague Spring and burned the complacent hypocrisy of the societal elite to a crisp. With “The Cremator” banned upon release but later acclaimed as one of the major highlights in the canon of the Czech New Wave, Herz turned to fairy tales and literary adaptations set in a bygone age to skirt censorship and find a new outlet for the grotesque and darkly romantic material he was attracted to, often featuring deranged protagonists with intentions of evil while incorporating style elements of the avant-garde.
Juraj Herz will personally introduce his film, in the presence of expert Daniel Bird.
In collaboration with the Centre tchèque de Bruxelles and the NFA (Národní Filmový Archiv)
Beauty, as popular wisdom will have it, is in the eye of the beholder. But here, that beholder is a mythical monster that forbids its prized possession to return its gaze. Dreamlike and ethereal adaptation that draws out the uncanny qualities of the original story and pities the antihero his inner turmoil.
The horrifying professional cremator in Herz's masterpiece would make a great Halloween character, and he'd be a knock-out. This baffling and darkly humoristic tale of a deranged institutional figure is made up in dizzy strokes of expressionist folly and is as disturbing as it is aesthetically gratifying.
'A fanciful rediscovery' is one way of putting it. A key fairytale in the oeuvre of The Dark Baron. Herz riffs on the concept of 'seeing anew with childlike wonder' in a concoction that features a pouty-lipped princess, a brave vagrant, a maleficent evildoer and nine children's hearts!
The blackest of black, the ultimate shade of noir, the high priestess of Gothic supreme: veils, coffins and the petrifying eyelashes of its leading ladies included. No label quite sums up the baroque magnificence of "Morgiana". Ensnares fully with a story of madness, betrayal and hallucination-inducing poison.
A businessman can't seem to find his way home when he wanders into a serpentine shopping mall where time has stopped. The bizarre characters he meets have no intention of helping him either. Herz deals a hand of massive psychosexual terror and claims this film as his second-favourite after "The Cremator".
Vampire mythology is taken for a spin by adding themes of technological anxiety and a critique of consumer culture. Like a horsepowered Nosferatu, race car "Ferat" drains the blood of any victim unlucky enough to get behind its steering wheel. A film that's not only profoundly weird but also scary and fun.