Juraj heart

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Juraj Heart (2009)

Juraj Herz (sometimes also Georg Herz ; born September 4, 1934 in Kežmarok , Czechoslovakia ; † April 8, 2018 in Prague ) was a Czech film director of Jewish-Slovak origin, who became famous in Germany primarily for his fairy tale films.

life and work

At the age of 9, Herz was deported to Auschwitz together with his parents. Shortly afterwards he was sent to the Ravensbrück concentration camp , and finally to Sachsenhausen , where he was liberated by the Soviet army in 1945. His parents also survived the concentration camp. These experiences were to have a strong influence on his work in later times.

After the war, Herz first studied photography at the Arts and Crafts School in Bratislava , and later puppetry at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague . After further studies in directing and acting, he began his career at the Semafor Theater , where he worked as an actor and director. Here he came in contact with Jan Švankmajer , who used him as an actor in some of his surrealist short films. In 1961, an assistant director led him to the Barrandov Film Studios in Prague , which enabled him to make his directorial debut in 1965 with the short film The Collected Rawnesses based on a book by Bohumil Hrabal .

Herz already had his breakthrough with his third feature film Der Leichenverbrenner (1969), based on a novel by Ladislav Fuks . Initially, the black comedy was even nominated as a Czechoslovak contribution for the Oscar abroad. However, a few weeks after the premiere , Der Leichenverbrenner was banned by the communist regime, among other things because of “criticism of conformism”. Abroad, however, the film continued to be highly successful, for example in Australia it was voted Film of the Year and awarded the prize for best film at the 1972 Sitges Festival . In the following years, Herz worked in different genres. In addition to musicals, chamber plays and literary adaptations, he mainly directed fairy tale films, which earned him international attention.

In the German-speaking world, Herz is certainly best known for his fairy tale and children's films, which he specialized in the 1980s and 1990s. In the Czech Republic and Slovakia, however, Juraj Herz is considered a horror specialist, even if hardly any of his films can be clearly assigned to this genre. Most likely this still applies to Der Autovampir (which, however, also contains elements of satire, parody and science fiction), as well as darkness . A number of his fairy tale films also work with stylistic features of the horror genre, especially Beauty and the Monsters and The Ninth Heart , while the threatening atmosphere in Passage has Kafkaesque features. Morgiana (based on a novel by the Russian fantasist Alexander Grin ), on the other hand, was originally planned as a psychological horror film with a completely different resolution, but had to be radically rewritten and weakened due to objections from the censors.

Another focus of Juraj Herz's work was the preoccupation with the Holocaust and the time of the German occupation of Czechoslovakia - partly in the guise of thrillers or horror films (such as the already mentioned films Der Leichenverbrenner and Darkness ), but also in the form of realistic- historical films. In 1963 he was involved as an actor and assistant director in the film Transport from Paradise by Zbyněk Brynych , which describes the last days in the Theresienstadt concentration camp . In 1986 he shot Mich rauch die Nacht , the setting for this film is the Ravensbrück concentration camp, where Herz himself was imprisoned as a child. The main character, a journalist, is designed as an homage to the writer and human rights activist Milena Jesenska , who perished in Ravensbrück. Habermann from 2010 plays in the Sudetenland and describes the time from the beginning of the Nazi occupation until immediately after the end of the war.

In addition to directing, Herz was mostly involved in the script and occasionally took on minor roles in his films. In 1986 he shot the lavish international co-production Galoschen des Glücks, based on a fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen . a. and the ZDF and ORF involved. Since the 1990s, Herz worked primarily for television, but occasionally also directed theater productions on Prague stages.

Filmography (selection)

  • 1963: Transport from Paradise (Transport z ráje) - assistant director
  • 1965: The Collected Roughness (Sběrné surovosti)
  • 1966: Under the Sign of Cancer (Znamení raka)
  • 1968: The Limping Devil (Kulhavý ďábel)
  • 1968: The Incinerator (Spalovač mrtvol)
  • 1971: A befitting marriage (Petrolejové lampy)
  • 1972: Morgiana
  • 1974: The porcelain girl (Holky z porcelánu)
  • 1975: The trail leads to the mountain hotel (Holka na zabití)
  • 1976: A day for my love (Den pro mou lásku)
  • 1978: Beauty and the Monster (Panna a netvor)
  • 1978: The ninth heart (Deváté srdce)
  • 1979: Brittle relationships (Křehké vztahy)
  • 1981: The car vampire (Upír z Feratu)
  • 1981: Bulldogs and Cherries (Buldoci a třešně)
  • 1984: Sweet Sorrows (Sladké starosti)
  • 1986: I was overcome by the night (Zastihla mě noc)
  • 1986: Galoshes of Luck (Galoše šťastia)
  • 1986: Gagman
  • 1988: love is stronger than death
  • 1989: August '39 - Eleven Days Between Peace and War (documentary series)
  • 1991: The Frog King (Žabí princ)
  • 1991: Wolfgang A. Mozart
  • 1992: Stupid Augustine
  • 1994: The Emperor's New Clothes (Císařovy nové šaty)
  • 1994: Lara - My years with Boris Pasternak
  • 1994: Maigret and the head of a man (Maigret et la Tête d'un homme)
  • 1996: Maigret sets a trap (Maigret tend un piège)
  • 1997: Passage (Pasáž)
  • 2009: Darkness (TMA)
  • 2010: Habermann (Habermannův mlýn)



  • The beautiful and the monster. In: Andreas Friedrich (Hrsg.): Film genres - Fantasy and fairy tale film. Reclam, Stuttgart 2003, ISBN 3-15-018403-7 , pp. 116-119.

Web links

Commons : Juraj Herz  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Zomrel režisér a herec Juraj Herz. In: Aktuell.sk. April 9, 2018, accessed April 9, 2018 (Slovak).
  2. Juraj Herz: Speech about his time in the concentration camp, given in front of the Brandenburg State Parliament on April 30, 2012, accessed on April 10, 2018 (pdf; 106 kB).
  3. Filmspiegel , No. 8, 1987, p. 20.
  4. Tag archives: The corpse incinerator. Spalovac Mrtvol . X4Wien, August 18, 2010, accessed on April 9, 2018.
  5. The Cremator. (No longer available online.) Arte , archived from the original on January 17, 2013 ; accessed on April 9, 2018 .
  6. Czech Horror: Czech Horror: Drowning the bad times. Juraj Herz interviewed . Kinoeye, January 7, 2002, ISSN  1475-2441 , accessed April 9, 2018.
  7. 41st Nordic Film Days Lübeck: Program . Website of the city of Lübeck, accessed on April 9, 2018.
  8. ^ Bavarian Film Prize 2010: The winners have been announced. In: exclusiv-münchen.de. January 15, 2010, accessed July 1, 2017 .