An inept Czech peasant is torn between greed and guilt when the Nazi-backed bosses of his town appoint him “Aryan controller” of an old Jewish widow’s button shop. Humor and tragedy fuse in this scathing exploration of one cowardly man’s complicity in the horrors of a totalitarian regime. Made near the height of Soviet oppression in Czechoslovakia, The Shop on Main Street features intense editing and camera work which won it the Academy Award™ for Best Foreign Film in 1965. —The Criterion Collection
Began his career after WWII making documentary shorts, then moved to Prague where he made one feature, “Katya” (1950), before teaming up with Elmar Klos in 1952. Despite wary Czech censors, the pair co-directed and co-wrote a number of socially-oriented documentaries and features, noted for their smooth craftsmanship and solid storytelling. They were, however, banned from filmmaking for several years for their depiction of postwar cynicism and housing shortages in “The Three Wishes” (1958). Kadar (who dominated on the set) and Klos (who was more administratively inclined) achieved international recognition for their incredibly powerful Oscar-winning portrait of a man who must “guard” an elderly Jewish woman during WWII, “The Shop on Main Street” (1965). “Adrift”, meanwhile, begun in 1968 but interrupted by the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, proved on its release in 1971 to be one of the most haunting depictions of mental breakdown in modern cinema.
After his partnership with… read more
Czechoslovakian filmmaker and screenwriter Elmar Klos is best known for his long, productive collaboration with director/writer Jan Kadar. Together, the two gained a considerable reputation for making thoughtful, earnest, socially conscious documentaries and features. Because many of these films, notably Music from Mars (1954), subtly criticized the communist state, the duo had frequent battles with authorities that resulted in them being banned from filmmaking for two years — the film that got them banned, Three Wishes (1958) offered a bitter look at post-WW II housing shortages. Their best known collaboration is the 1965 film Shop on Main Street for which they received an Academy Award for “Best Foreign Film.” Klos, the nephew of a screenwriter, started working in films as a teen. When he was 25, he helped found a documentary studio and then became a key figure in creating a national Czech cinema following WW II. Between 1946 and ‘47, he headed a studio that made short films before… read more
The funny and tragic performances, the camera work, the story, the dream sequences; all great reasons to see this film. Another foreign picture that doesn’t really have anyone involved who became very… read review