Thursday, April 5, 2007

Jan Kadar's The Shop on Main Street

The film's structure suggests personal responsibility for individual decisions that led to the holocaust by connecting Tony, the main character, to the viewers. The film's action foretells and funnels to the undeniable, predictable (yet still horrifically affecting) conclusion. The caustic assault on Tony throughout the film mounts on his laxidasical self-perpetuating stupidity that stems from his personal choices and his indulgence in his shotcommings and points to his backseat role(percieved by him) and lack of individual pride in his role (and involvment) in the workings of his society as a whole. His responsibilities as a social being are ignored [i.e. husband, buisnessman, and polititian(potential engagement w/ his brother-in-law)]. As the film progresses, his social dependence becomes clear as he seams himself into the fabric of the tainted society that he refuses to acnowledge in his ironicly desperate attempt to do the right thing. He downplays his own truest feelings [disgust, distaste, abporment, astonishment (all of which are objectively valid)] leading him into a downward spiral. In essence, by denying his feelings, he kills himself. He identifies with his feelings (True Self), denies this self, and grieves it's death. He acts out the five stages of grieving. (Kubler-Ross, 1969) His neurosis comes to a head near the end of the film after a night of heavy drinking.

The film's most powerfull sequence brings Tony face to face with his False Self and the grotesque ramifications of his actions as such. He becomes aware of the audience (conscience) and projects his drunken broken previosly false identity (now actual) on to the camera, actualised by the audience, as his True Self when it finds and follows him (as he foolishly escapes it) in a series of three or four hand-held shots that show him at odds with the audience, afraid. He soon after hangs himself from the rafters of his newly aquired shop.

Bringing the audience into the film in a role of realative omnipotence drastically complicates the film, evoking a sense of immediacy and responsibility in the audience. This reinforces the reality of the implications of our (humans) actions (and inactions), and offers hope in the form of responsibility while it drives the horror of the fiction home by reminding the audience that the terror of the holocaust is still real.

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