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Re: [Slovak-World] The Shop on Main Street

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  • Vladimir Bohinc
    Here something from the Czech history..... http://hedvicek.blog.respekt.cz/c/957/Fotografie-z-osvobozeni-Plzne-americkou-armadou.html Vladimir ... From:
    Message 1 of 5 , Nov 19, 2006
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      Here something from the Czech history.....

      ----- Original Message -----
      From: amiak27
      To: Slovak-World@yahoogroups.com
      Sent: Monday, November 20, 2006 1:49 AM
      Subject: [Slovak-World] The Shop on Main Street

      Well, I followed through on the recommendation to check out the
      library for "Shop on Main Street" and discovered that they not only
      had this movie in both CD and tape, but a great collection of other
      films as well. So I have a whole lot of Czechoslovak, Polish,
      Ukrainian and Russian films to check out if I wish to get to know
      our European neighborhood better.

      Starting with Shop on Main Street being a work of fiction and never
      forgetting that it reflects Slovak life as accurately as Hollywood
      movies reflect American life .

      There is a lot to reflect Slovak life during the war years. The
      movie is worth watching twice, once to concentrate on the
      development of the story and characters, and a second time to
      observe all of the background details. There are the wooden carts
      (or wagons) to be seen, from the small cart the hero uses - quite
      like the dog carts of "Ceske Budejovice" Erskine Caldwell writes up
      in `North of the Danube' - to the wooden wheeled horse drawn carts
      on the street. I was surprised by the appearance of one of the more
      modern rubber wheeled carts as well that we see today. I never
      thought they were developed so early, but of course, why not?

      Looking for potential propaganda in the presentation, I fully expect
      the communist régime in power in 1965 to paint the fascists in as
      black a light as possible. Perhaps this is where they chose to
      emphasize fascist depravity by adding the scene where the brother in
      law fondles his sister in law while in the same room with her
      husband and his own wife. this goes well beyond the blatant racism
      and greed that carries the main theme of the movie, and is perhaps
      added to emphasize the moral bankruptcy of fascism.

      I looked up five or six film reviews on the internet after watching
      the video, and found almost all of the reviewers expressed a fair to
      extreme ignorance of the society represented in the film. The
      reviews did add fresh perspectives, but only alongside factual and
      cultural errors. One reviewer places the town "under nazi
      occupation" which was not so. The symbols and terminology in the
      film were specifically "Guardist" - the Hlinka Guardists, the
      fascist semi-military arm of the clerico-faschist Tiso government.
      Slovakia was not occupied at the time. Another reviewer speculated
      about the possibility of the fascists (or Nazis as he calls them)
      forcing the people to parade and look happy. He evidently is not
      familiar with the European tradition of the Promenade, where the
      town puts on their Sunday best and strolls the town to see and to be
      seen and to greet friends and neighbors. The Promenade was also a
      chance for young men and women to check out the eligible partners.

      We should be prepared for people trying to live normal lives even
      during wartime, as we are trying to live normally today in America,
      despite our wartime status. Some scenes presumably reflect a
      normal, everyday life, from washing after work and interior
      furnishings of the homes to dealing at the market place, the kroy
      worn by the women in the street to behavior of the buyers in the
      button shop. The worries of earning a living and surviving do not
      go away in time of crisis, nor does the desire to make a better life.

      There is also the delicate matter of placing the timing in
      historical context. In 1942 the `final solution' was newly
      formulated and still unknown around Europe and even in Jewish
      communities. So it is easy to accept that the Jewish and Slovak
      communities were fooled into believing the stories of `resettlement'
      after processing through a concentration camp (as distinct from
      extermination camp, a much newer and perfidious idea). The hopes
      for a `mild' pogrom and habits of good citizenship would account for
      Jewish compliance, even under suspicious circumstances. The Jewish
      resignation to resettlement can more easily be understood in this
      context, and the recognition that came later has led to the pro-
      active, preventative attitude we observe in Jewish actions in the
      decades since.

      The story turns toward a very dark ending after leading us through a
      heavy conflict of idealism vs. self preservation. Finally, while
      some American reviewers questioned the fantasy ending, I find it a
      variation on a strong tendency in Czech films toward such scenes and
      departures from realities. I take it as an escape mechanism from
      the overall very black ending, a mechanism for handling an ending
      that Hollywood would avoid at all costs.

      I haven't reviewed the earlier postings on this film, but would be
      interested in other perspectives, particularly from native Slovaks
      and Slovaks who may have stories of these times passed down from
      their parents. This is a work of fiction, but it does present our
      peoples and one view of their behavior during a particularly trying
      time. Too little of our history and culture is made available, and
      if reconstructing the button shop and a part of that era serves as a
      tool for telling our Slovak story as well as the story of the Jewish
      tragedy of that time, then we will all benefit from this opportunity
      to open a small window on history.

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