When the Nazis started running out of money, they took the easiest option: develop bogus money. Based on a true story, The Counterfeiters explores the unique story of a Jewish man - the best forgery expert in Europe - forced to help the Nazis finance their war effort.
Die Fälscher stars Karl Markovics as Salomon 'Sally' Sorowitsch, a man known for making the best forgeries in the region. Cocky, ambitious and self-centered, his goal is to successfully copy the American dollar. He will get his chance, but not in the way would ever have wished upon himself. World War II kicks off and Sally, a Jew, finds himself in the Hell that is Auschwitz. However, he is saved from the general population by one of the camp's commanders, who was also the man that originally apprehended him. Sally is giving a crew to help develop the perfect forgery of the British Pound and, eventually, the American dollar. As Sally nears the completion of his life long dream, though, he is faced with a terrifying decision: finish the dollar and save the Nazis, or sabotage his own work and risk death.
The moral dilemma in The Counterfeiters is what makes this movie so compelling, and what drove it to an Oscar for Best Foreign Picture. What would you do in such a situation? Would you be brave enough to, practically in the face of your captors who are willing to kill you and your friends without remorse, sabotage your own efforts? This is one of those rare WWII films that only come along every couple of years; it's not that others haven't been done better, but few have focused on such a unique situation as portrayed here. I mean, how many other films have you seen about a Jewish man in Auschwitz who isn't suffering physically?
The Counterfeiters is a good movie, but not as emotionally powerful as some. In some ways, I actually give the director props for not making an emotionally manipulative movie; still, as interesting a tale as this is, it isn't as impressionable. The Counterfeiters is one of those great movies that will be forgotten in a year's time.
Nevertheless, the acting and screenplay are top notch. Markovics delivers an excellent performance, and, supported by a strong cast, commands the film without chewing scenery.
The Counterfeiters is a film worth seeing. It's original, interesting and well-done, and worthy of its Oscar.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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