The Counterfeiters (Die Fälscher) Made in: Austria Language: German (mostly), Russian Director: Stefan Ruzowitzky Starring: Karl Markovics, August Diehl, Devid Striesow, Martin Brambach Year: 2007
Based on the book by Adolf Burger
Synopsis: Gifted artist Salomon "Sali" Sorowitsch lives a life of decadence and wealth in Nazi Germany, made possible through his skill as an underground currency and document forger. But after accepting one last job, the law catches up to him and the "king of forgers" is arrested by Friedrich Herzog (Devid Striesow), who works for Germany's anti-counterfeiting division.
Being Jewish, Sorowitsch finds himself hauled off to a concentration camp. His long-developed survival instinct still intact, Sorowitsch quickly gains a reputation as a troublemaker. However, his artistic talent also gets noticed by the German officers in charge, and spares him much of the misery endured by the other prisoners as he is called away to paint family portraits, propaganda materials, and murals.
Years later, by a strange twist of fate, Sorowitsch is transferred to a concentration camp in Sachsenhausen. There he is summoned by none other than Friedrich Herzog, the very man who arrested him.
Sorowitsch then finds himself, along with several other artist/graphic/print experts, drafted to participate in secret program known as "Project Bernhard." The program calls for Sorowitsch to once again use his abilities as a forger to create dead-ringer counterfeit versions of the British Pound and American Dollar in huge quantities. Once that is achieved, the mountains of phony cash can continue financing the Nazi war machine while crippling the economies of both Allied nations.
Remarks: The Counterfeiters definitely has a great premise and cast, and as a World War II period piece it certainly looks and feels authentic. Although it won an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, Ruzowitzky's piece falls short overall.
This is not to say that it's a bad movie, but the emotional impact of The Counterfeiters will have a difficult time measuring up to the likes of other prominent films dealing with the Holocaust, such as Schindler's List and Life is Beautiful.
To give Ruzowitzky credit, his film is very well directed and he's very clever and effective in visually expressing the sadistic nature of the Nazi regime and the horrors of war. But without downplaying the significance of the Holocaust, in this day and age most avid filmgoers have already seen and read about the many gripping and frightening accounts that occurred during that time.
From an emotional/psychological standpoint, Ruzowitzky's film does not offer any significant insight that Steven Spielberg and Roberto Benigni haven't already given us.
Who would like this movie: You'll enjoy this film most if you're a history enthusiast of World War II events who, for some reason, has never seen movies such as Schindler's List or Life is Beautiful.