The Shop on Main Street

A carpenter in the Fascist Slovak State is appointed “Aryan controller” of a Jewish widow’s store. The first Oscar winning Czechoslovak movie.

Obchod na korze
Czechoslovakia 1965
  • English
128 min.

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.