The Counterfeiters Reviews
Torn between their will to stay alive and the politics of funding the Nazi regime, there is in-fighting amongst the group, headed by fantastic lead performances from Karl Markovics and August Diehl.
An Oscar winner for Foreign Language Film, this film is well recommended to fans of foreign cinema and/or great war movies.
"The Counterfeiters" tells the true story of a group of Jewish prisoners who were recruited from other camps for such a career--much against their wishes, if not for the threat of death. Being skilled craftsmen in their own right, they are all brought together, and realize that so long as they deliver the counterfeit bills to their captives, they'll be spared their lives. Boastful, talented Russian-Jewish counterfeiter Salomon Sorowitsch is sent to the Sachenhausen concentration camp to orchestrate the operation, and forced to deal with a psychopathic guard named Holst (Martin Brambach), who only wants results. At first Salomon has no issues helping the Nazi's for comfortable conditions for himself and staff, but over time it begins to take it's toll. He is torn between his determination to stay alive with the knowledge that producing the perfect American dollar will affect the lives of his fellow workers, as well as undermine the entire Allied cause.
"The Counterfeiters" differs from other films involving the Holocaust in that the emphasis is on the personal moral choices that are made--rather than the overall horror and despair. The two barracks of Jews working on the project are kept in what they call a "golden cage," in which they have enough to eat, beds with clean linen, and piped-in opera music to drown out the sounds of the murders committed on the other side of their thin plywood walls. The prisoners' dilemma over whether to assist the Germans and thereby ensure their continued survival is the heart of the movie, which keeps the focus on moral imperatives rather than the physical ravages of the camps. Ruzowitzky's film is so gripping because his is able to simulate the daily horror's of these men with remarkable subtlety; although the workers are sheltered from seeing the brutality and torture, the screams alone are terrifying. Karl Markovics gives a phenomenal, profound performance and his disturbing moral ambiguity is a the heart of this incredible true story. Stefan Ruzowitzy adapted the book by Adolf Burger, one of the protagonist's fellow prisoners (Diehl). Ruzowitzky's script is beautifully constructed, and to his credit, does not take a position on the internal debate, but gives the viewer enough leeway to question what they would have done in similar circumstances.
I want to see the rest of it, I can see why it earned Oscar for Best Foreign Film.