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Foreign Film - Austria - The Counterfeiters / Die Falscher

The Counterfeiters / Die Falscher
Karl Markovics, August Diehl
Directed by Stefan Ruzowitzky
Austria 2007
German or French
English subtitles
Sony Pictures Classic 2008
99 minutes

The Counterfeiters / Die Falscher won the 2008 Academy Award for Best Foreign Film. It is an old joke in Hollywood that a movie about a handicap or the Holocaust automatically gets Oscar's attention but The Counterfeiters really is a very good foreign film DVD.

This is a very interesting DVD about a little known historical aspect of WW II and the Holocaust. It is also a bit of a thriller.

The Counterfeiters begins and ends with a man and a lot of money. It then tells the story of how that man got that money. Salomon Sorowitsch (Karl Markovics) is a great counterfeiter who stays one day too many in Nazi Germany. Much later he is recruited by the Nazis to head a secret counterfeiting operation isolated within a concentration camp. The Nazis want to first ruin England's economy with false Pound notes and then create fake U.S. dollars to pay for the war effort.

Some Jews in the counterfeiting operation, including Adolf Burger (August Diehl) feel their actions are helping the Nazis and must be sabotaged.

There is also the guilt many of the men feel about being alive, never mind living in relative comfort while many, many others are dying around them.

Sorowitsch is a great artist but also a criminal with honor and a survivor for whom seeing the next day is all that matters and his motivation for his work.

The Counterfeiters is a complex movie. It manages to tell an interesting story without being didactic when raising all the necessary ethical issues. The acting and writing are superb.

The English blurb on the jacket for The Counterfeiters DVD is wrong: it is not Sal who makes a deal with the Nazis but the Nazi commander who makes a deal as he understands that for his operation to be successful he must keep his staff healthy.

The ending is quite strange.

Extra features on The Counterfeiters DVD include English subtitles, French subtitles that do not always match the French dubbed version, a director's commentary track, the usual deleted scenes. The most interesting here is a clip with the real Adolf Burger who wrote the book that inspired the movie.

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