The Shop On The High Street DVD Review

SOHS2Tono Brtko is a carpenter and a local fixture. He comes from a poor family that lived as they have done for the last 100 or more years.All this has begun to change however when the Nazis invade and the town he lives in becomes a new experiment in antisemitism. Tono brother in law gets him a job as an Aryan Controller for an old Jewish lady that owns the local dress making shop. She is nearly deaf, alone and lives in a house that is ramshackle yet her home. The problem for Tono is that she is simple and friendly and  he has now seen his town changed and  wants it to be as it was. The war will not permit this nor will the reality of outside the shop give into the humanity, a simple man feels for a very lonely, yet tender lady.

SOHS3Winning awards, winning praise and gaining critical acclaim can be a double edged sword. You could have a film that is a circuit fave but also a barrier to entry to audiences. That is often the case with the international films that are modern fair for the cine lover. The films that are idolised sometimes can be so dense and hard to break into, yet are revered by people that have no understanding of the world past the film chronicles they covert. This film is far from those films. The Shop on the High Street is a brilliant film about people, events outside of control and it has at its core, humanity.  The very well told and tender story of a man and a woman coming together as a ‘mother and son’ but also as people across an imagined void. Void of imposed barriers due to religion but really a social tool. Ida Kaminska is amazing as the old lady who is left abandoned but finds her heart in a man that she sees as a son. Her performance (and to the same extent the remarkable balancing act of Jozef Kroner) The great chemistry of the lead actors can only be contrasted by the side performers, who balance ugly and dire with care and hope. They are both vicious people and also victims of a circumstance that is beyond any control. The film is an act in amazing direction built on great acting and even great story telling skill.

SOHS1The transfer is very good on the DVD but having never seen it before, I have nothing to compare bar the love of the stock. The extras are a delight for any film fan or to be honest, any film aficionado. First is the amazing Michael Brookes work on the appreciation. He gives the film a time, place and respect with the eye of a film maker and a film lover. It makes the viewer delve into the film and want to find more inside the film. This makes you hungry for the discourse but also your own fresh view on a film that is new. The booklet is worth the money alone. Buy it for the essay by Peter Hames who is a very interesting film programmer. He builds on the films place and time which some might find hard but I loved it.

  • – The Shop on the High Street (1965) – presented from a brand new HD transfer of the film
  • – Original Slovak soundtrack in Dual Mono 24-bit LPCM audio
  • – New and improved English subtitle translation
  • – Booklet featuring a new essay

 

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