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Slovakia during WW2. Tono lives a poor life, but the authorities offer him to take over the Jewish widow Lautman's little shop for sewing material. She is old and confused and thinks that he is only looking for employment and hires him. The odd couple begin to like each other. But some time later the authorities decide that the Jews must leave the city. What should he do with the old lady? Written by
Powerful testimony about Europe's involvement in the Nazi Era.
This film is one of the most gripping stories told about Nazi occupied Europe. A small town in 1942 Czechoslovakia feels the changing regime envelop the people, pinning friends against one another, and turning even the most pacifistic men into traitors. Small-time carpenter Tony is married to an attractive, but constantly nagging and complaining, materialistic woman. Seeing her in-laws successful, while exploiting the political advantages of working with the Nazis, makes Tony's wife ever more determined to have a "piece of the fortune" the Jews are said to have been hording. Although refusing to work at a "tower of Babel" the Nazis are erecting as a symbol of their glory (and doing without the money he could have earned), Tony doesn't speak out against the "new order" either.
When Tony finds himself as assistant to an old lady at her failing notions shop (which he "legally" was entitled to take over), he learns about the Jewish community, how everyone looked out for one another, and how these people were no different from other folk in town, if anything they were more human than the rest. Still afraid of retribution from the Nazis and their sympathisers, Tony is in a no-win-situation.
The final scene of this 1966 Best Foreign Film Oscar Winner was likely an inspiration for the final scene in the 1997 Blockbuster "Titanic". This cinematic gem serves as a reminder to the old German saying "Leben und leben lassen" (live and let live). A classic indeed!
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