September 13 – 20

DELIRIUM AND DECADENCE: THE GIDDYING GOTHIC CINEMA OF JURAJ HERZ

Slovak-born Juraj Herz (1934-) remains one of the great unsung directors of Czechoslovakia’s “golden ’60s.” Denied entrance to Prague’s storied film school FAMU, having already studied puppetry and design, and with his greatest films emerging after the 1968 Soviet invasion, he has too often been overlooked in accounts of the Czechoslovak New Wave, notwithstanding that he directed a superb episode of Pearls of the Deep, 1965’s omnibus film oft cited as a manifesto for the nascent movement (even if The Junk Shop was ultimately released separately) – or that his febrile 1972 doppelgänger fantasia Morgiana is widely considered the New Wave’s very last gasp.

Interned in the Ravensbrück concentration camp aged ten, Herz’s apprenticeship in film included assistant director duties on Ján Kadár and Elmar Klos’ Academy Award-winning The Shop on the Main Street. Kadár admitted, “the foot of that Oscar belongs to Herz,” whose expressionist 1968 masterpiece The Cremator would pitch Kadár and Klos’ film’s themes of the Holocaust and conformism into exponentially darker comedic territory. With that same year’s Soviet crushing of the Prague Spring demanding there be no further smuggling of political commentary into film narratives, Herz turned to period films and fairytales.

This season of imported prints is rounded out by three hyper-stylised examples of his brilliant work cross-pollinating these ostensibly unprovocative genres, which for all their abundant aesthetic pleasures still present a reliably pessimistic take on the human condition.

Co-presented with


The Czech and Slovak Film Festival of Australia

September 13

7:00pm THE CREMATOR
Juraj Herz (1968) 96 mins
Unclassified 15+ (unless accompanied by an adult)

Karl Kopfrkingl, chillingly portrayed by Rudolf Hrušínský, is a cremator wooed by Nazism in the early days of the German occupation. Production of this adaptation of Ladislav Fuks’ novel was halted during the 1968 Soviet invasion, further charging its already potent political undertones with an added horror and complementing Stanislav Milota’s virtuoso expressionist cinematography and Zdeněk Liška’s indelible score.

CTEQ ANNOTATION:
The Cremator by Brian Hoyle

A Black Pearl of the Deep: Juraj Herz’s The Cremator by Adam Schofield

Preceded by

The Junk Shop Juraj Herz (1965) 31 mins. Shot in the very junk shop where author and co-scenarist Bohumil Hrabal worked for seven years, Herz’s exuberant Pearls of the Deep episode heralded a singular new talent.

CTEQ ANNOTATION:
The Ash Heap of Meaning: Juraj Herz’sThe Junk Shop by David Heslin

DCPs of both films courtesy of the National Film Archive in Prague.


9:20pm BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
Juraj Herz (1978) 83 mins
Unclassified 15+ (unless accompanied by an adult)

One of two fairytales he shot simultaneously (the other being The Ninth Heart), Herz’s adaptation surely remains the darkest, wintriest, most fetid filmic interpretation of Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve’s venerable fairytale. Headily steeped in Gothic atmospherics, Herz’s Beauty Julie (Zdena Studenková) is pitted against a most unconventional Beast (celebrated ballet dancer Vlastimil Harapes) whose tormented mien is less than leonine and instead inspired, one might surmise, by the surrealism of Georges Franju’s Judex and Max Ernst’s alter ego, Loplop.

35mm print courtesy of the National Film Archive in Prague.

CTEQ ANNOTATION:
Of Beastly Beauties and Beauteous Beasts: Juraj Herz and the Fairy Tale by David Melville.

September 20

7:00pm MORGIANA
Juraj Herz (1972) 99 mins
Unclassified 15+ (unless accompanied by an adult)

Iva Janžurová puts in a tour-de-force performance as twin sisters Klára and Viktoria, the latter hell-bent on doing away with the former, in this deliciously overripe adaptation of Aleksandr Grin’s 1929 novel Jessie and Morgiana. With froufrou costuming and opulent production design informed by Herz’s enthusiasm for the work of Gustav Klimt, cinematographer Jaroslav Kučera has a field day with wide-angle lenses and employing prismatic colour effects exceeding even those found in his earlier films with Věra Chytilová. Features an eerie soundtrack by the brilliant Luboš Fišer.

35mm print courtesy of the National Film Archive in Prague.

CTEQ ANNOTATION:
A Tail and Two Sisters: Morgiana by Rhiannon Dalglish


8:50pm OIL LAMPS
Juraj Herz (1971) 101 mins
Unclassified 15+ (unless accompanied by an adult)

A virginal woman (Iva Janžurová) hopes to marry a jaded soldier in the Austrian army (Petr Čepek), wilfully ignorant of the dissolute proclivities that might just be sending him mad and attacking his body with a discomfiting wasting malady. Set, like its source, Jaroslav Havlíček’s 1944 novel, at the very outset of the 20th century, Herz’s sumptuous adaptation, enriched by “Dodo” Šimončič’s glorious cinematography, meshes the director’s love of Art Nouveau aesthetics with his peculiarly mordant Weltanschauung. The film’s ironically romantic score is by Luboš Fišer.

35mm print courtesy of the National Film Archive in Prague.

April 12 & April 14
OPENING NIGHTS: MARLENE DIETRICH

April 19 – May 5
THE BIG CARNIVAL: THE FILMS OF BILLY WILDER

May 12 – May 26
CAST A DARK SHADOW: THE BEAUTIFUL SADNESS OF DIRK BOGARDE

June 2 – June 16
WILDFLOWERS: DANCING, DESIRE AND FREEDOM IN THE FILMS OF GILLIAN ARMSTRONG (Postponed)

June 30 – July 14
DRIFTING STATES: THE FILMS OF APICHATPONG WEERASETHAKUL

August 25 + Further dates (TBC)
JEAN COCTEAU: THE POETRY OF DREAMS

September 1 – September 15
REACHING BEYOND THE FRAME: THE POETIC CINEMA OF ABBAS KIAROSTAMI