Even from this one-line sentence synopsis, you might be able to predict the outcome. A building of neighbors is tended towards madness in the face of utter repression, due to one man's heroic act of humanity. One of the most memorable endings of Czech New Wave films. Highly recommended for those knee deep.
The opening sequence with all the stolen Jewish belongings is so effective, ordered and cinematic (reminded of Greenaway for the second time in one night) that the rest of the film becoming something quite different is odd. Some incredible cinematography but emotionally distancing. Final sequence is also great.
This Kafkaesque work set in WWII transposes the climate of fear and rampant anti-Semitism from the nightmarish labyrinth in a storey building to the asylum logic of surveillance that plagued Prague under the Communist regime. Punctuated by cinematic allusions to nascent fascism (Mr. Fanta) it's a haunting and sagacious film on everyday-fascism, told in stunning b/w shots of time's freezing in a realm of unfreedom.
shades of Gilliam in the touches of surrealism that tinge Brynych's depiction under life under totalitarian bureaucracy, but tempered with the harsh knowledge that the film was depicting real-world brutality both under the Nazis, and, probably, Communist rule. plus, there's some fantastic production design (that warehouse!!) and photography in here, i'm always a sucker for a camera moving deftly through an apartment