Cinema - The Shop on the High St

The Shop in the High Street, originally titled Obchod Na Korze, won the Best Foreign Film Oscar in 1966 as a Czechoslovakian movie. Since the break-up of that state there has been some discussion as to which of the two countries it belongs to, sparked by the Prague-based magazine Cinema dubbing it a ‘Czech’ film. It was made with Czech money, their argument goes, and filmed by a Czech company - the Barrandov Studios. Furthermore it was based on a Czech novel. However the issue is not quite clear. The film has two directors - The Czech Elmar Klos (mainly concerned with the editing process) and Jan Kadar (a Budapest-born Slovak). The dialogue is in Slovakian, the actors are all Slovak, and all the outside filming was done in Slovakia. After much debate (it was suggested the film should be called ‘Czecho-Slovak’ or even ‘Slovako-Czech’) the magazine stuck to its guns.

All the discussion over identity was rather apt, as the film, in effect, is about identity. It follows a theme often explored by Eastern European storytellers, the difficulties an individual has coming to terms with the machinations of the state. In this case the individual is Tono Brtko (played by Jozef Kroner) an amiable craftsman in wartime Nazi-ruled Slovakia. Egged on by his wife, and against his will, Tono is put forward to be the ‘Aryaniser’ of a shop run by an old Jewish lady. The film is an allegory for the Stalinist repression of Czechoslovakia.

Shop on the High Street: where the produce is fresh
All Saints, Friars Walk, Lewes
When? 8pm
How Much? £4.50 (no advance tickets)
  Lewes Film Club
(t) (01903) 523833
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