The Shop on Main Street

"Good"

The Shop on Main Street Review


The Czech film The Shop on Main Street earned acclaim from critics around the globe, a success that culminated in its winning the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film in 1966. But watching it today, it's clear that its success was less a matter of any particular cinematic greatness than it was timing and subject matter. By the mid-'60s Czechoslovakia was as exciting a film nation as Italy and France for many cineastes: Before the 1968 Soviet invasion the country enjoyed a creative boom generated by a host of young directors (Milos Forman most famous among them) producing intimate films that were also deeply engaged in Europe's tangled wartime politics. The Shop on Main Street, for its part, tackles the persecution of Jews in one small town, centering on an elderly Jewish woman, Rozalie Lautmann (Ida Kaminska), and Antonin Brtko (Jozef Króner), who's ordered to take over her shop in advance of the roundup for the death camps.

Early on the film has the shape of a comedy -- Brtko is a hapless peasant who's constantly harangued by his wife, and Mrs. Lautmann's nearly deaf and blissfully ignorant of the Nazi machinations surrounding her. Both play their roles with workmanlike skill, but while the movie neatly tracks Brtko's slow-growing wisdom about his inability to be an innocent bystander, its insights into fascism, family, moral responsibility, and religion aren't surprising. Directors Ján Kadár and Elmar Klos stubbornly play the story slow, severe, and foursquare; that may be appropriate for the material, but a pair of sweetly turned fantasy sequences suggest a less leaden, didactic film could've been made out of this parable. As it stands, this isn't much beyond dutiful viewing for students of the Czech New Wave.

Aka Obchod na korze.



The Shop on Main Street

Facts and Figures

Run time: 128 mins

In Theaters: Monday 24th January 1966

Distributed by: Prominent Films

Production compaines: Filmové Studio Barrandov

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 100%
Fresh: 12

IMDB: 8.0 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Ján Kadár, Elmar Klos

Producer: Jordan Balurov, M. Broz, Karel Feix, Jaromir Lukas

Starring: Ida Kaminska as Rozalia Lautmannová, Jozef Kroner as Antonin 'Tono' Brtko, Martin Gregor as Jozef Katz, Hana Slivková as Evelyna Brtková, Martin Hollý as Imro Kuchar, Adam Matejka as Piti Báci

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