Once seen, the opening credits of Juraj Herz’s pitch-black satire The Cremator (1969) are not soon forgotten. At the beginning of the handcrafted, collage-style sequence, a still close-up of the protagonist’s head, from the eyes up, takes over the screen, only to break apart in multiple directions, revealing new credits with each fresh rupture. As the titles continue to roll, a cascade of cutout body parts fills the frame, followed by still other split-apart heads. Thus Herz slyly acquaints the viewer with the deeply fractured psyche and macabre worldview of Karel Kopfrkingl (Rudolf Hrušínský), a crematorium manager in 1930s Prague whose mad obsessions with death and purity soon lead him to sign up with the ascendant Nazi Party.
When it came time to commission a cover image for our edition of Herz’s film (available now), the Criterion art department had this section of the movie top of mind. The assignment promptly went to La Moutique—the design studio run by Ecuadorian-born, Brooklyn-based artist Juan Miguel Marin—an outfit that has made a specialty of wildly surrealistic, collage-based posters and album art, an aesthetic sensibility that had struck Criterion’s Eric Skillman as the perfect match for Herz’s brand of gallows humor. And right out of the gate, Skillman and Marin discussed the opening credits as a rich source of visual cues for the cover, “particularly the collages of cutout body parts juxtaposed with Karel Kopfrkingl’s equally eerie and charming face,” Marin says.
Designing Citizen Kane, Down to the Letter
How to encapsulate the spirit of the most celebrated film of all time in a single image? The artist behind our Citizen Kane edition reflects on his winding path to the minimalistic final product.
Revolutionary Artist: Emory Douglas on the Black Panthers and Melvin Van Peebles
The illustrator behind the cover image of our box set Melvin Van Peebles: Essential Films speaks with the edition’s designer about his history-making, boldly political aesthetic.
Caitlin Kuhwald’s Hand-Drawn Portraits Bring Iconic Faces to Life
The Los Angeles–based artist behind the covers for our editions of Amarcord and The Awful Truth discusses the evolution of her work.
Artist Victo Ngai Captures the Lush, Enigmatic Layers of Flowers of Shanghai
For the cover image of our edition of Hou Hsiao-hsien’s opulent masterpiece, the award-winning illustrator combined traditional Chinese figure-drawing styles with a distinctly modern approach to color and composition.
You have no items in your shopping cart