April 5, 2021

Countries & Movies: Czechoslovakia

The cinema of Czechoslovakia (namely Czechoslovakia, not the Czech Republic; we wrote about the best film of the Czech Republic here) is presented in the Golden Thousand with 7 pictures. The list of these movies is headed by the film "Obchod na korze (The Shop on Main Street)" directed by Ján Kadár and Elmar Klos.

The literary basis of the film "Obchod na korze (The Shop on Main Street)" was the story "The Trap (Past)" by Ladislav Grosman, published in 1962. Ladislav Grosman, who grew up in a family of Slovak Jews, experienced all the hardships that fell to the lot of the Jewish people during the Second World War. His parents and three out of five brothers died under the German bombing, and he himself went through the so-called a "labor camp" organized by the Nazis for young and healthy Jews.

In 1964, Ladislav Grosman, with the participation of Ján Kadár and Elmar Klos, reworked his story into a script called "Obchod na korze". Ján Kadár was born into a Jewish family in Budapest and during the war he also suffered all the horrors of the Holocaust. His parents and sister were killed by the Nazis at Auschwitz, and Kadár himself, like Grosman, was sent to a "labor camp". It is quite natural that the theme of the Holocaust and the so-called "Aryanization" is reflected in the main work, which brought worldwide fame to the directors and scriptwriters of the film "Obchod na korze (The Shop on Main Street)".

"Obchod na korze (The Shop on Main Street)" premiered on May 20, 1965 at the Cannes International Film Festival, where the film was nominated for the Palme d'Or. But the festival jury, chaired by Olivia de Havilland, considered Richard Lester's film "The Knack ... and How to Get It" more worthy of this award. Meanwhile, among the 26 nominees for the main prize, in addition to the film "Obchod na korze (The Shop on Main Street)", there were such wonderful films as the Japanese film "Kaidan (Kwaidan)" directed by Masaki Kobayashi or the British film "The Hill" by Sidney Lumet. The film by Ján Kadár and Elmar Klos received a special mention for the performances of Joseph Kroner and Ida Kaminski.

In early 1966, the film by Czechoslovak filmmakers won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. Moreover, in the dispute for this award, the film "Obchod na korze (The Shop on Main Street)" bypassed such films as "Kaidan (Kwaidan)" directed by Masaki Kobayashi and "Matrimonio all'italiana (Marriage Italian Style)" by Vittorio De Sica ... And a year later, in 1967, Ján Kadár and Elmar Klos were awarded the Golden Plate of the Italian Film Academy. By the way, Ingmar Bergman and producer of the French comedy "La grande vadrouille" Robert Dorfmann were awarded the same award that year.

The critics' assessment of the film "Obchod na korze (The Shop on Main Street)" is evidenced by the fact that Rottentomatoes could not find a single negative review of the film. And even the eternally grumbling and corrosive Bosley Crowther, in a review for The New York Times, called it “one of the most arresting and devastating pictures I've seen from Europe or anywhere else,” a film that raised “hope that the horrible injustices committed against innocent people may bring some realization of the need of brotherhood.”

Russian film critic Vladislav Shuvalov drew attention to another important feature of the film: "... Today, when attitudes to various aspects of the World War II are overgrown with cliches and myths, the honesty and courage of the directors is striking (by the way, Ján Kadár himself went through a concentration camp, which excludes provocative claims against him). Kadár and Klos find the possibility of a tragicomic and even absurdly surreal intonation on the harsh dramatic material of the war, draw parallels between the police regimes of fascist Slovakia and socialist Czechoslovakia, and finally create a poignant drama of the "little man" who disappeared in the millstones of wartime."

I would like to add that in the film you can see parallels not only with Czechoslovakia during the communist regime, but also with modern Russia. I mean the phrase that the wise Jewish hairdresser utters: "When the law persecutes the innocent, that's the end of it. And those who make the law, too."

The evaluations of the film "Obchod na korze (The Shop on Main Street)" by ordinary viewers are indicated by its ratings on the sites IMDB and Kinopoisk. 74% of users of these sites gave the movie ratings from 8 to 10. And 26% of users rated the movie at the maximum - “ten".

With that said, FilmGourmand rated the film "Obchod na korze (The Shop on Main Street)" by directors Jan Kadar and Elmar Klos at 9,241, making it 118th in the Golden Thousand.

In addition to the film "Obchod na korze (The Shop on Main Street)", the following films by Czechoslovak filmmakers were included in the Golden Thousand:
- Ostře sledované vlaky (Closely Watched Trains), director Jirí Menzel, 1966. Movie's Rating - 8,677; 255th Rank in the Golden Thousand.
- Lásky jedné plavovlásky (Loves of a Blonde), director Milos Forman, 1965. Movie's Rating - 8,292; 411th Rank in the Golden Thousand.
- Tri orísky pro Popelku (Three Wishes for Cinderella), director Václav Vorlícek, 1973. Movie's Rating - 8,028; 678th Rank in the Golden Thousand.
- Marketa Lazarová, director Frantisek Vlácil, 1966. Movie's Rating - 7,935; 818th Rank in the Golden Thousand.
- Spalovac mrtvol (Cremator), director Juraj Herz, 1969. Movie's Rating - 7,926; 828th Rank in the Golden Thousand.
- Kladivo na carodejnice (Witchhammer), director Otakar Vávra, 1969. Movie's Rating - 7,809; 978th Rank in the Golden Thousand.