The Counterfeiters (2007) R 1h 38min
September 16th, 2008 by Maxim · No Comments · 6,980 Views
A.k.a. Die Fälscher, this 2007 Oscar-winning drama was written and directed by Austrian director Stefan Ruzowitzky (All The Queen’s Men) based on “The Devil’s Workshop”, the book by Adolf Burger.
The plot: This movie is based on real events, when in 1932 Nazis during World War II created a largest counterfeiting operation in history in order to undermine the economies of U.S. and Great Britain by flooding them with counterfeit money. Salomon “Sally” Sorowitsch (Karl Markovics) was the king of counterfeiters. He lives a debaucherous and mischievous life in Berlin until one day his luck runs out and he is arrested by German counterfeit agency’s Superintendent Friedrich Herzog (Devid Striesow) and sent to the concentration camp for hard labor. He could have vanished in there, but his talent for drawing was noticed and he was eventually transferred to head the counterfeit operation together with other professionals selected from various death camps. They were placed in “luxury” barracks and forced to work on “Operation Bernhard”. One of them was Adolf Burger (August Diehl), the author of the book that the film is based on. Adolf was refusing to use his skills to help Nazis, and Salomon as the result has to decide whether his choice to participate in the Operation Bernhard, save his own life and life of his comrades, and possibly be accomplice in death of millions by damaging the allied war effort is the right choice to make.
The film is mostly in German (also with some Russian, English and Hebrew), with English subtitles.
The good: What a story! Tense and gripping drama – so interesting to watch. Strong acting. Very well shot and edited. Sound editing was also great: sometimes there’s background music, but sometimes silence says more then words could ever do. Solid piece of film-making. It shows both Jews and Germans as regular people - free of clichés – they are very complex characters in this movie, which makes it work on so many levels and makes it a real human drama. It shows life in the camps, through the eyes of “Sally”, where people are used as slaves, shot, tortured, beaten and starved. The Nazis in the movie – many are sadistic bastards, but they are also shows as people whose morals are perverted by the racist ideology, but not “pure evil” as in so many other timepieces – in the movie some of them made what can be qualified as “gestures” – when it was in their interest. They were at every moment aware that they are in full control of the lives of the Jews that worked for them. In the center of the movie is the moral dilemma – a survival by collaboration or death and resistance/sabotage. Karl Markovics is great as Sorowitsch – a Jew that thinks he’s above his own people because of his “ability to adapt”. The Nazis let them grow their hair and play ping pong; they had enough food, and from the words of Burger himself, “we had everything”. But in the end they were ”dead man on holiday” and never expected to get out – and it’s interesting to see how they survived in that kind of environment.
The bad: although it’s interesting to watch this amazing drama, I could not help but think that Sally was very lucky to have a choice – because millions did not.
DVD special features:
- Commentary with director Stefan Ruzowitzky
- The Making of COUNTERFEITERS
- Adolf Burger’s Artifacts
- Q&A with director Stefan Ruzowitzky
- Deleted scenes
- Original Theatrical Trailer
The summary: this a great gripping and interesting drama based on true story about survival and the largest counterfeiting operation of all time during World War II.
The cast: Salomon ‘Sally’ Sorowitsch - Karl Markovics | Adolf Burger – August Diehl | Sturmbannführer Friedrich Herzog – Devid Striesow | Hauptscharführer Holst – Martin Brambach | Dr. Klinger – August Zirner | Kolya Karloff – Sebastian Urzendowsky | Zilinski – Andreas Schmidt
The credits: Director – Stefan Ruzowitzky | The book – Adolf Burger | Script – Stefan Ruzowitzky | Producers – Josef Aichholzer, Nina Bohlmann, Babette Schröder and others | Original Music – Marius Ruhland | Photography – Benedict Neuenfels | Film Editing – Britta Nahler
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