The Shop On Main Street (Obchod na Korze) Reviews
BUT! I read some COMPLETELY WRONG INFORMATION in some comments below: the film isn't set in Czechoslovakia but in Slovakian State (which had splitted in 1939 from the Czech part which started being occupated by Nazis). Slovakia proclamed loyalty to Hitler, Slovakia wasn't occupied by Nazis, it was their ally! Slovakia gave Jews to the Reich for a fee per each!
So Brtko the carpenter is not Czech, he's Slovakian who was given a Jewish shop in the process of arization of Jewish service! His ambitious brother-in-law gave it to him because he wanted to rise up in his career as a leader of Hlinka's guard (Hlinka was one of the leaders in the Slovakian State which was fascist!) so that his family would be "politically OK".
Filled with tense, ethical quandaries, this film is absolutely remarkable. As Tono takes over an elderly woman's shop and learns the Jewish community that supports her, his prejudices wane, but there is still a gulf between belief and action - a gulf that I suspect infected many in the wake of Nazi atrocities. His weak-willed inability to stand up for others and his pride-busting benefits from his job present him with serious ethical questions that he ultimately fails to resolve.
The performances by Josef Kroner and Ida Kaminska are as compelling as actors can be, and the direction by Jan Kadar and Elmar Klos is blithe and compelling.
Overall, this is one of the finest films I've ever seen about WWII.
In The Shop on Main Street, we follow the Slovak carpenter named Tono Brtko, who's fascist brother-in-law has given Tono a sewing store, which belongs to an old near-deaf Jewish woman named Rosalie Lautmann. The problem is that Tono does not have the heart to throw out the innocent old lady, who seems not to be aware of the political situation in the country. Tono let her work in the store as normal, while he is the de jure chief. While the resistance is willing to pay Tono, to keep her. But as we all know, the pogrom is always near by.
This is a strong emotionally film, with some great performances by both Josef Kroner as Tono, and by Ida Kaminska, who actually was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar, which is really rare for an foreign performer. Those are characters that you care for, and roots for. And the look at Rosalie's face when she realizes the truth is just so heartbreaking. Tono is the average guy we all see our selves in. A man that drinks away his problems. We also feel the tension between Jews and Aryans, fascist air that Tono despite so much. The Shop on Main Street is a great tragedy film, where the tragedy haunts us after the film is finished. Thumbs up,