• R, 1 hr. 39 min.
  • Drama
  • Directed By:
    Stefan Ruzowitzky
    In Theaters:
    Feb 10, 2007 Wide
    On DVD:
    Aug 5, 2008
  • Sony Pictures Classics

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The Counterfeiters Reviews

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Jan Marc M

Super Reviewer

September 10, 2011
The Counterfeiters is a fictionalized do-or-die tale of survival by a group of talented counterfeiters set World War II Nazi concentration camp. Bold, brave, and provocative new perspective on Operation Bernhard and its role in the Holocaust. Credible cast and performances. A deserving 2007 Academy Award Best Foreign Language Film winner.
Emile T

Super Reviewer

July 25, 2011
It may be hard to some to dare say negative things about a movie with such a delicate storyline, but The Counterfeiters has really nothing extraordinary to it and I now seem to be the only one to say it is a terribly overrated movie. The direction, which gives a TV look to the film (it was a great thing for The Pianist; here, it is only making it look cheap), is unfortunately very unsensitive while strong emotions should be what you'd find in a movie that is supposed to be inspiring. While it failed to inspire anything in me, it did manage to protray the horror of the Holocaust but never came close to other great films of the genre. Its qualities are never enough considerable to overcome its tactless and cold portrayal of a journey that was supposed to feel inspiring.
Carlos M

Super Reviewer

June 4, 2010
A dark, gripping true story that works as a challenging moral exercise on the terrible choices that some were forced to make in order to survive the horrors of the Holocaust. An absorbing film that deserves even more credit for making us sympathize with a not-very-likable anti-hero.
Anthony L

Super Reviewer

October 2, 2009
An excellent German thriller based on a true story. The cast is fantastic, particularly Markovics, as is the direction. Brilliant considering is was made on a shoe-string. Highly recommended!
Daniel P

Super Reviewer

January 23, 2009
I would hardly be the first to compare Nazi concentration camps to Hell, but this film brought to mind an interesting way to do so: the notion of contrapasso, from Dante's Divine Comedy (the first volume, Inferno, if that wasn't obvious).

Quite simply, contrapasso is when the sinner in Hell is punished by having to continually commit his or her sin for eternity... or at least until enough prayers get the spirit out of Hell and into Purgatory and then Paradise.

The lead character, Sally, is a master counterfeiter, both a criminal and a Jew, and as such he finds himself arrested. The punishment, in a Dantean sense, fits the only one of the two qualifications that is actually a crime: the counterfeiter is doomed to continue counterfeiting.

When Dante and Virgil reached the very depths of Hell and discovered Satan, it was not fiery, but effectively frozen solid, and though incredibly powerful, all Satan could do was flap his wings. This is what circulated the air in the Inferno, and effectively kept the whole system moving. The point? In a Dantean world view, even the greatest evil has a role to play in God's plan.

No, I'm not about to defend the Nazis, I hope you didn't stop reading. Like Oskar Schindler, the master counterfeiter Sally is able to keep a staff and thereby save his workers' lives. Much to the chagrin of Burger, another inmate who can't bear the thought of bankrolling the Nazi's war effort, Sally and his crew print forged British Pound and American Dollar notes simply to stay alive. And so, in a larger sense, printing the money - though aiding an evil force - had a benevolent role to play, as it allowed the group to stay alive until the camp was liberated. And Burger, being a deceiver and continually sabotaging the Dollar project just enough to delay them longer, was also a hero despite his seemingly reprehensible actions making him persona non grata by the end.

(Bit of a spoiler, I know, but Holocaust movies are so depressing already, it's almost unheard of to kill the main character... if you watch a lot of them you generally know that they'll survive.)

Other Holocaust films have moved me more (Fateless) or had a bigger/better production values (Schindler's List), but this might be the one of the best plots among those that that I've seen: the contradiction is exciting, as you spend the whole film unsure if you want them to "crack the Dollar" or not, as neither succeeding nor failing guarantees survival. I also found it interesting that the counterfeiters were first artists, for some would argue that to attempt to make a film about the Holocaust in and of itself is, like counterfeiting money, a perversion of artistic talent.

It always blows me away to see a director entertain the notion of what humanity will do when reduced to its basest level of existence, and in this case, it was the flaws of the counterfeiters that made them human, and separated them from the faceless and automatic Nazis.

A well written and acted film that certainly deserved its Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, one that you can either just watch as a good, straight-forward Holocaust movie, or if you want, think a ton about it - the film lends itself to both approches, and should be on your list.
rubystevens
rubystevens

Super Reviewer

April 19, 2008
intense and well acted ww2 drama about the largest counterfeiting operation of all time, undertaken by the nazis using prisoners in a concentration camp who soon face a moral dilemma...blah blah blah. based on a true story and of interest to history buffs as the plot could have become a turning point of the war
Mark H

Super Reviewer

June 23, 2008
Powerful drama about a man who must weigh his desire for self preservation and his guilt at aiding Nazi forces. Dramas involving the Holocaust are always difficult to endure and this is no exception, but the moral dilemmas it raises are thought provoking and the performances are first rate. 2007 Academy Award Winner for Best Foreign Language Film.
Stefanie C

Super Reviewer

October 16, 2008
not just another WWII / Holocaust movie. this film is engrossing, and resplendent with its truthfulness and humanity.
shauna1354
shauna1354

Super Reviewer

April 29, 2008
Tremendous film-making. Die Falscher is an extremely intense film, and no doubt an achievement in cinema. It covers a different angle to your usual holocaust film, and tells a remarkable story that had yet to be told.
Die Falscher follows the lives of prisoners in a concentration camp forced with the task of counterfeiting for the Nazis.
Karl Markovics plays a great leading man and very believable as the 'King of Counterfeiters'. August Diehl is also brilliant as the rebellious hero Adolf Burger.
The script, direction and atmosphere of the film can not be criticised. Die Falscher is a raw, engaging and inspiring piece of cinema that ultimately must not be missed.
Luke B

Super Reviewer

August 25, 2008
A moral dilemma raises its ugly head as a group of Jews are seduced into working for the Nazis. They can work and save themselves or stall and possibly end the war. It's excellently constructed in the gradual build up. It keeps its focus on what is going on with the counterfeiters and keeps the atrocities of teh camps at an eerie distance, with only sound and stories influenceing our imaginations. One very moving and traumatic scene has a counterfeiter finding his children's passports in a box of materials from Auschwitz. None of the Jews are villains here and even the Nazis are humanised, given a brief glimpse inside the house of a Nazi officer. The film should also be commended on its matter of fact, this is how it is tone. Exceptional if a little short, it's main focus are the moral decisions and the plot itself which often sacrifices characterization.
sanjurosamurai
sanjurosamurai

Super Reviewer

January 10, 2008
holocaust films are always so interesting and powerful to me, while also being by far the most depressing to me as well. this is a great film and very deserving of its oscar for best foreign language film, but it is incredibly sad all the same. to see that real people suffered such a fate is always disturbing. wonderful film covering an angle of WW2 that many havent heard about.
LorenzoVonMatterhorn
LorenzoVonMatterhorn

Super Reviewer

March 22, 2008
This movie is an excellent film. It portrays an aspect of World War II that may or may not have been known by people. The acting in it is great throughout the film.

The leading character did what he had to do to survive the concentration camps and survive the war. Other people do things to survive. The other prisoners did the same thing. The commander of the concentration camp wasn't exactly an angel. I feel that he had his own selfish interests at heart and really didn't have a true allegiance to the Nazis.

The movie being based on a true story gives it credence and credibility. Of course, Hollywood dickers around with the facts so as to give the film entertainment value.

4/5
Aaron N

Super Reviewer

February 16, 2008
Burger: Don't you see that we're helping support the Nazi war effort.

This year's winner for best foreign film is set inside a concentration camp, portraying a true story of the biggest currency counterfeiting operation of all time.

We follow Solomon Sorowitsch, Karl Markovics, one of the best known European counterfeiters. After being caught and sentenced to jail time for his work, the time of war and Sorowitsch being a jew puts him into a concentration camp.

He is eventually transported to a specific area where his talents make him a leader in the Nazi's counterfeiting operations in order to keep their economic status functioning.

Solomon must now find ways to manipulate his position in favor of his other prison mates and himself. This leads to a tricky moral position where he knows that his contributions are both keeping him alive but fueling evil tyranny at the same time.

This is a good enough movie, with an interesting premise and a well acted leading role from Markovics. There is nothing particularly bad about it, but I was just not too enthralled in the movie as a whole. Its not that its too depressing or mishandled, I just wasn't too engrossed in this movie. This doesn't mean much about the quality of the film, but I've seen similar films before, and this time around I just did not feel too involved.

It is a good film however, with some tense moments, a soundtrack that makes good use of the tango, and an ending that finds a neat end to the moral dilemma Soloman faced.

Burger: Are you really doing this to survive, or are you just trying to counterfeit the dollar?
Apeneck F

Super Reviewer

March 29, 2008
ach du leiber! those damn lowdown dirty krauts! they want to take over the world! again! and this time they're doing it by having a crook phony up some phony tony for them so's they can upset the economical world applecart, those creeps. well, how does the poor schmuck they get to do it feel about it? how would he feel if maybe they gave him some incentives, like letting him live f'instance? it's a bit of a ethical conumdrum...okay, no, it's not tough to figure out at all, but still it's interesting watching our hero learn the obvious anyway. 4 stars worth of interesting. one of the best out at theaters right now.
Rico Z

Super Reviewer

March 24, 2008
This movie is on par with the likes of Schindler's List or Sophie's Choice in terms of Holocaust awareness and the profound nature of its message. However, where this film differs is in its methods to bring an aging theme such new life.

This films tells the story of a group of concentration camp prisoners rallied by the Nazis to work for the German government. Their skills as printers, graphic designers, paper specialists, etc. have made these men indispensable to the Nazis (at least for a short time.)

Where the conflict lies is when an idealist Jew refuses to cooperate and threatens to undermine the entire operation--thus, putting all his partners' lives at risk.

The movie is quite entertaining and grazes on light-heartedness despite its heavy and bogging subject matter. The movie could've dragged and been utterly depressing; but the script chooses to focus more on dark humor and handles the more heavy stuff with brilliance and taste.

This film won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language film at this year's ceremony (2008.) It is deservedly rewarded and I feel very fortunate to have had the chance to see it. I know many never will get to.
gor41
gor41

Super Reviewer

February 28, 2008
Less than gripping tale of survival under Nazi rule which covers over familiar themes with little to add.
Ross C

Super Reviewer

November 4, 2007
An amazing true story about a group of talented Jews seconded from their various WW2 concentration camps to perfect counterfeit pound and dollar notes. One of counterfeiters this story is based on was even at the cinema to tell his tale!
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