Archive of films The Shop on Main Street / Obchod na korze
1965, 125 min
Section: Out of the Past
In an era when Slovakia was a newfangled fascist satellite, the protagonist of this Academy Award-winning drama, shown here for the first time in its brand new restored version, accepts an offer to Aryanize a piece of Jewish property. The decision is immoral and the price is steep regardless of excuses. Are ordinary people really always powerless? That’s at least what Tono says to soothe his smarting conscience. The digitized print of The Shop on Main Street came about in cooperation with the Czech Film Foundation and the State Film Fund, Karlovy Vary IFF, UPP (Universal Production Partners), Elmar Klos (heir of the director), and Ivan Šlapeta (Cinematographer), with financial support from the Ministry of Culture.
Presented this year at the Karlovy Vary IFF as a world premiere screening of the new digitally-restored print, this Oscar-winning drama unfolds as war is raging. It's WWII and in the recently established fascist state of Slovakia, Jews are handled in accordance with Nazi directives. One of these is the Aryanization of Jewish property, and carpenter Tono Brtko accepts the management of Mrs. Lautmanová’s shop. She’s an old widow, hard of hearing, who lives in a world of her own where she has no true appreciation for the hell that has been unleashed around her. In no time, however, Tono is softened by her gentleness and vulnerability, and he is unable to break the news that he’s actually not just her new assistant. The atmosphere of their relationship, punctuated by minor misunderstandings that often border on farce, ultimately takes on a more dramatic cast, climaxing in a tragic finale with strong moral overtones. In this light the widow becomes the prototype of the innocent victim, and Brtko – cinematically pardoned when he enacts the gravest of punishments for his failure – represents just one in an endless procession of those who, through weakness and passivity, enable the entrance of evil.
About the director
Ján Kadár (1918, Budapest – 1979, Los Angeles) took to photography and filmmaking in Bratislava before the war. In 1952 he and Elmar Klos joined creative forces to focus on directing, a trade he also plied in Canada and the USA (where he emigrated in 1968) after difficult beginnings. He directed for American and Canadian television; of his films that made it into distribution, the most significant are The Angel Levine (1970) and Lies My Father Told Me (1975). Elmar Klos (1910, Brno – 1993, Prague) showed an interest in moviemaking during the silent era and gradually tried his hand at a variety of film professions. He and Ján Kadár worked together for 17 years, making 8 movies. Of their three top contributions during the 1960s, the most successful was The Shop on Main Street (1965), which took the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1966. After the Prague Spring of August 1968, Klos was prevented from engaging in any film activities and was thrown out of Prague’s Film Academy (FAMU), where he had been lecturing.
Nadace české bijáky
Štětkova 1638/18, 140 00, Praha 4 - Nusle
About the film
Black & white, DCP
|Section:||Out of the Past|
|Director:||Ján Kadár, Elmar Kloss|
|Screenplay:||Ladislav Grosman, Ján Kadár, Elmar Klos|
|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|
|Contact:||Nadace české bijáky|
Director of Photography