An inept Czech peasant is torn between greed and guilt when the corrupt, Nazi-backed bosses of his small 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 complicity in the horrors of a totalitarian regime. Made near the height of Soviet oppression in the former Czechoslovakia, The Shop on Main Street features extraordinary camera work and editing that earned it the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film. Czech with English Subtitles.
In World War II Slovakia, an easygoing carpenter, Tono (Jozef Króner) is pressured to move up in the world by his ostentatious wife and fascist brother-in-law. He takes the job of "Aryan comptroller" in a button shop owned by an aging Jewess, Rosalie (Ida Kaminska) who barely seems aware that there is a war unraveling the solidarity of the small town. Tono works as Rosalie's assistant and they develop a touching and sometimes funny friendship. When the deportations to the concentration camps take place, Rosalie is somehow overlooked. Against the warnings of his wife, Tono protects Rosalie from the next roundup, but not without tragic consequences.
Like Jiri Menzel's CLOSELY WATCHED TRAINS and Milos Forman's LOVES OF A BLONDE, Kadar's film emerged from a movement of unconventional artistic filmmaking called the Czech New Wave (1963-1968). THE SHOP ON MAIN STREET was the first Czechoslovakian film to win the Best Foreign Film Academy Award has become one of the most acclaimed and cherished films of the 1960s. Kadar mixes documentary and fiction techniques to create a subtle style that is tragically realistic yet softly dreamlike. The capricious Kaminska was nominated for the Best Actress Academy Award and Króner gives an impassioned performance that is unforgettable.
In the small town of Slovakia during World War II, the local Nazi party allows Tono to take over the ownership of an unprofitable button shop. It is run by Rosalie, a deaf elderly woman who barely seems aware that there is a war going on. Tono works as Rosalie's assistant and they develop a friendship. When the deportations to the concentration camps take place, Rosalie is somehow overlooked. Against the warnings of his wife, Tono protects Rosalie from the next roundup, but not without tragic consequences.