Archive of films Shop on the High Street / Obchod na korze
1965, 125 min
Section: Out of the Past
This intimate Oscar-winning drama, shot 50 years ago this year, is set in World War II when Jews were persecuted by the Slovak state. Two of its victims are everyday heroes, even though they stand on opposite sides of the conflict. Through the character of Tono Brtko, the film gains the currency of a timeless statement on the tragic consequences of moral compromise.
It has now been 50 years since the filming of Shop on the High Street, the first Czechoslovak film to win an Academy Award (1966). The passage of time has shown that few such award-winning works can stack up against the artistic quality and emotional power this intimate war drama still evokes today. In 1960s Czechoslovakia it was a pioneering film in several respects: it referenced the brutal persecution of Jews under the Nazis, for the first time it openly acknowledged the active participation of the Slovak state in the Holocaust, and finally it moved beyond the era of formulaic war frescoes centering on a collective hero. Avoiding empty pathos, the fateful tale allows the viewer to feel deep compassion for the elderly and powerless Jewish widow as she is subjected to the Aryanization of her meager business. With the character of everyman Tono Brtko, whose good heart has been infiltrated by fear and a desire for property, the movie shifted towards an ethically compelling and timeless statement on conscience, cowardice, and the tragic consequences of moral compromise.
About the director
Czech Ján Kadár (1918–1979), on right, and Slovak Elmar Klos (1910-1993), the long-term directing duo who shot eight features together between 1952 and 1969, are a relative rarity in the world of filmmaking. Their first efforts were marked by period schematism but by the end of the 50s they began positing a more intimate style of narrative marked by a sensitive psychological depiction of character. Their sober realism, emphasizing the credibility of everyday heroes and the situations they live through, reached a climax with the Oscar-winning Shop on the High Street (1965) with its mature sense of tersely dramatic story construction. The events of 1968 intruded on their joint creative career, with Kadár emigrating to Canada and the USA where he shot two more pictures, while at home Klos was forbidden from engaging in any further professional activity.
About the film
Black & white, 35 mm
|Section:||Out of the Past|
|Director:||Ján Kadár, Elmar Kloss|
|Screenplay:||Ján Kadár, Elmar Klos podle stejnojmenné novely / based on the novel of the same name by Ladislav Grosman|
|Dir. of Photography:||Vladimír Novotný|
|Art Director:||Karel Škvor|
|Producer:||Ladislav Hanuš, Jaroslav Prokop|
|Production:||Filmové studio Barrandov|
|Cast:||Ida Kamińska, Jozef Kroner, František Zvarík, Hana Slivková, Elena Zvaríková, Martin Hollý st.|
|Sales:||National Film Archive|
|Contact:||Contemporary Films, Ltd.|
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