In The Shadow

Directed by David Ondricek

Czech Republic, 2012

Cornerhouse, 17 November 2013

In the Shadow

In every respect a satisfying thriller and a film that also casts a light on the residual anti-Semitism present in communist states in the post-war period.

Why does it grab your attention?  Well, it is one of those thrillers where the police and the state security service and perhaps some other clandestine agency are at loggerheads.  Such thrillers always work when handled aright, at least for me.  They create a tension because there’s an uncertainty as to where genuine authority resides.  The parameters of power are unclear.  You realise that social order is fragile, if not illusory.

The substance of the film concerns a couple of crimes – a jewellery theft, a hold-up at a post office – which supposedly implicate the Jewish community.  One cop strives to uncover the truth, others try to make the charges stick.  Prague looks very pretty and atmospheric and there’s a shot of Kafka’s house at one point, which is surely pertinent.  Kafka was a realist but that’s saying nothing new: Lukacs learnt that lesson in 1956, if you know the story of his arrest.  Those in this trial weren’t as lucky as he.

Details of other films in the UK Jewish Film Festival can be found here.