Obchod na korze (1965)
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- The Shop on Main Street
- 128 min.
Ján Kadár, Elmar Klos
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Wow..what a tragedy. I enjoyed this very much, but it is such a sad story.
If it weren't set in the shadow of the Holocaust, The Shop on Main Street's premise would be a comedy, and indeed plays like one for most of the runtime. Tono is appointed "Aryan manager" of a Jewish business for which he is ill-qualified, but the old lady who actually runs the store is oblivious to the Nazi occupation, going deaf besides, and thinks he's just there to help her out. She's a pain in his ass, and yet too endearing to send packing, and that's all very well and good until the Fascist Guard come to town to take all the Jews to the camps. Jozef Kroner is great as Tono, doing much without saying a word, never too sympathetic, and yet not unsympathetic either. He's no fascist, it's just a business opportunity. Ida Kaminska puts in a strong performance as the old woman too. And it's all told with an effective slice of life quality, at least until the climax with its brilliant use of the audience's judgment through the camera lens. A dark tale about impossible choices and the corruptive nature of fascism, wrapped in a sort of small town comedy in which you spend time with a community of affecting characters. Some call it gut-wrenching, but I admit I perhaps braced myself for something harder to watch, and so came out of it relatively unscathed.
Koco, so it is Slovak. My mistake and apologies.
I find it fascinating that the sense of morality imbued in Cold War era films from Eastern Bloc countries is so righteous with respect to Nazis, while the citizens of those nations were being subjected to immoral oppression by their governments. I suppose it was a matter of perspective.
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In 11 official lists
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This movie ranks #2 in Golden Foundation of Czech and Slovak Cinema
This movie ranks #18 in Academy Award - Best International Feature Film
This movie ranks #43 in 101 War Movies You Must See Before You Die
This movie ranks #54 in Academy Award - Best International Feature Film Nominees
This movie ranks #133 in The Criterion Collection
This movie ranks #177 in Harvard's Suggested Film Viewing: Narrative Films
This movie ranks #211 in iCheckMovies's Most Favorited
This movie ranks #261 in UNESCO's Memory of the World
This movie ranks #373 in TSPDT's 1,000 Greatest Films: 1001-2000
This movie ranks #431 in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die
This movie ranks #788 in The New York Times's Book of Movies