The Shop on Main Street

The Shop on Main Street

Director: Ján Kadár, Elmar Klos Cast: Josef Kroner, Frantisek Zvarik
4.6 3

DVD (Black & White / Mono / Dolby 5.1)

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The Shop on Main Street 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Genocide is a concept of such enormity, its twentieth-century manifestation so bestial in its details, that the imagination shrinks from its depiction. But in "The Shop on Main Street" (U.S. title) we are able to see it in comprehensive and comprehensible terms, with a simplicity and humanism that are soul-searing, an honesty and integrity that are unforgettable. Czech filmmakers Jan Kadar and Elmar Klos have omitted the beasts with the whips and barbed wire, the emaciated corpses and the fragmented survivors. They have presented to us the tragedy not only of the millions who died but of the millions who stood witness to their murder in terms of a handful and epitomized it in a couple--a doltish, dim-witted carpenter and an elderly, doddering, shopkeeper--a foolish, well-intentioned young man and a sweet, harmless old lady. The triumph is that the tragic emphasis is not on the elderly Jewish widow, carrying on the ritual of business in her bankrupt little button shop with failing eyesight, near-deafness and a purity of spirit, living in lonely memories with deep religious faith. It is rather on the carpenter in this village in Slovakia during World War II, on the good-natured man whose reaction to fascism is as much due to his personal apathy to his brother-in-law, the local fuehrer, as to his basic sense of decency. Fascism is, in fact, presented to us most directly in the fatuous, vulgar greed of the brother-in-law and the nagging, blowsy earthiness and avarice of the carpenter's wife in contrast, the carpenter's ordinary average humanism becomes almost--but never quite--heroic. The carpenter is appointed Aryan controller of the widow's shop, only to discover that there is no profit there beyond the salary that the Jewish community will pay him to let Mrs. Lautman live in peace, nor is there pride, for the near-senile little lady, insulated by deafness, is under the delusion that he has been brought in to assist her, and she is kindly, patronizingly tolerant of him. A warm relationship develops, as does the crisis--the deportation of the town's Jews--and Tono, the carpenter, is suddenly confronted with the dilemma of protecting the widow or saving his own skin. Dreams and drunkenness provides no solution, for the nightmare is reality, and there is no slick escape, no easy way out for the ordinary man. And thus--through the brilliant perceptiveness of Ladislav Grossman's screenplay, the expert, sensitive direction of Kadar and Klos, the overwhelming performances of Josef Kroner and Oscar nominee Ida Kaminska, and indeed, the contribution of everyone involved--we come to know and understand, through laughter, through tears, through the ordinary actions of ordinary people, just what the tragedy of millions, of both victims and survivors, have meant in our history. [filmfactsman]
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago