When the law persecutes the innocent, that’s the end of it. And those that make the law, too.
In the Nazi-occupied Slovak state, an ineffectual carpenter stumbles into a new position when his fascist brother-in-law designates him the Aryan controller of a tiny haberdasher. The shop’s owner is a sweet, stubborn, mostly-deaf Jewish woman who happily proceeds with business as usual, totally unaware of her state-appointed supervisor. The radiant charm of Ida Kaminská, artistic director and leading actress of Poland’s State Jewish Theater, turns devastating when the dread hanging over the film finally erupts into horror. The confused, terrified betrayal in her eyes drives home that when ordinary people go along with unjust laws, they can enable unspeakable evil on the most vulnerable.
The haunting story of a group of girls from an Australian boarding school who disappear while on a day trip to the geological formation Hanging Rock. The unanswered mystery gnaws at you, but Peter Weir’s hypnotic images and music show how the rigid instruments of British repression–shoes, corsets–cannot compete with the uncontrollable forces of nature that we do not understand, but have existed long before colonists claimed the Rock as theirs.
A gas fire breaks out in a mine running along the border between Germany and France, leading German miners to defy orders and tear down the wall separating the two countries’ mines in order to rescue their French comrades. Pabst stresses how trauma from the first World War helped governments and companies pit workers against each other, and warns working people to unite rather than let hatred drive them to another war. Indicating he felt he was losing the argument, however, Pabst’s final scene shows officials rebuilding the wall.
The Bri-terion Collection
I’m loving the Criterion Channel streaming service, so every week I’m going to share my favorite new find.