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The Counterfeiters

4.6 3
Director: Stefan Ruzowitzky

Cast: Karl Markovics, August Diehl, Devid Striesow


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Writer/director Stefan Ruzowitzky explores the moral corrosion of Nazi complicity with this tightly wound adaptation of Adolf Burger's fact-based book The Devil's Workshop. Salomon Sorowitsch (Karl Markovics) may be a talented artist at heart, but his desire for wealth has driven him to use his


Writer/director Stefan Ruzowitzky explores the moral corrosion of Nazi complicity with this tightly wound adaptation of Adolf Burger's fact-based book The Devil's Workshop. Salomon Sorowitsch (Karl Markovics) may be a talented artist at heart, but his desire for wealth has driven him to use his creativity for more nefarious means. Arrested by the police inspector Herzog (Devid Striesow) at the onset of World War II, Sorowitsch is sent to the notorious Mauthausen concentration camp. It's not long before Salomon's thinly veiled opportunism earns him a relatively comfortable position as the camp's resident sketch artist, and five years later he is mysteriously swept away to Sachsenhausen. Upon arriving at the camp, Sorowitsch discovers that Herzog, now a commandant, is attempting to destabilize the economies of the Allies while simultaneously funding the Nazi war machine by assembling a special team of counterfeit artists to create millions in fraudulent pounds and dollars. As the operation gets under way, Sorowitsch finds the efforts of the team continually undermined by unyieldingly idealistic collotype specialist Adolf Burger (August Diehl). In the months that follow, the team wrestles with their consciences as Axis forces are gradually overwhelmed by Allied might. The Counterfeiters won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
"Average" Holocaust films -- if it's not insensitive to refer to them as such -- capture the stark, ever-present misery of life in the camps. But the superior ones plunge deeper into the camps' bitter ironies, into the false comforts that may have actually weakened the inhabitants' resolve toward defiance. And what gets more bitterly ironic than Jewish prisoners who unwittingly fund the Nazi war effort by counterfeiting international currency? The Counterfeiters, which won the 2007 Oscar for Best Foreign Film, has many parallels with another Oscar winner from 14 years earlier: Schindler's List. Both feature extraordinary men whose efforts ultimately save numerous lives -- even in roundabout fashion -- but who agonize about what more they could have done. In the case of Salomon Sorowitsch, there's the extra intangible of not knowing how many lives he actually imperiled by initially fulfilling his charge. Historical retrospect makes it easy to condemn these counterfeiters for a complicity apparently motivated by self-preservation, but director Stefan Ruzowitzky's treatment skillfully conveys that these were decent men who made imperfectly human decisions. Ruzowitzky's script captures a delicate cat-and-mouse game between the prisoners and the commandants, who themselves become occasionally conflicted by the human relationships they've unwittingly formed. The details revealed about the craft of counterfeiting, which rarely gets such an incisive spotlight on film, are also fascinating. Benedict Neuenfels overlays everything he shoots with a graininess that makes it difficult to tell when the film was made, concentrating on the era it depicts instead. It may be problematic for some viewers that The Counterfeiters is a work of fiction, whereas most Holocaust films stringently adhere to recorded facts and people who really existed. But the "just hold out long enough" tension of the prison camps is real, as are the core moral issues the story explores.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Sony Pictures
Region Code:
[Wide Screen, Color]
[Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround]
Sales rank:

Special Features

Commentary with director Stefan Ruzowitzky; Deleted scenes; Making-of The Counterfeiters; Adolf Burger's historical artifacts; Q&A with Stefan Ruzowitzky; Interviews with real-life counterfeiter Adolf Burger, actor Karl Markovics & director Stefan Ruzowitzky

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Karl Markovics Salomon Sorowitsch
August Diehl Adolf Burger
Devid Striesow Friedrich Herzog
Martin Brambach Holst
Dolores Chaplin Red-Haired Woman
August Zirner Dr. Klinger
Marie Baumer Aglaia
Veit Stuebner Atze
Sebastian Urzendowsky Kolya
Andreas Schmidt Zilinsky
Tilo Prückner Actor
Lenn Kudrjawitzki Actor
Marian Kalus Actor
Norman Stoffregen Actor
Bernd Raucamp Actor
Gode Benedix Actor
Oliver Kanter Actor
Hans Peter Kortenbruck Actor
Dirk Prinz Actor
Hille Beseler Actor
Erik Jan Rippmann Actor
Tim Breyvogel Actor

Technical Credits
Stefan Ruzowitzky Director,Screenwriter
Josef Aichholzer Producer
Anton Maria Aigner Asst. Director
Nina Bohlmann Producer
Nicole Fischnaller Costumes/Costume Designer
Torsten Heinemann Sound/Sound Designer
Heta Mantscheff Casting
Henning Molfenter Co-producer
Britta Nahler Editor
Benedict Neuenfels Cinematographer
Marius Ruhland Score Composer
Babette Schroeder Producer
Caroline Von Senden Co-producer
Isi Wimmer Production Designer
Isidor Wimmer Set Decoration/Design
Carl L. Woebcken Co-producer

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- The Counterfeiters
1. Chapter 1 [3:11]
2. Chapter 2 [2:19]
3. Chapter 3 [2:18]
4. Chapter 4 [3:29]
5. Chapter 5 [3:39]
6. Chapter 6 [3:43]
7. Chapter 7 [3:26]
8. Chapter 8 [3:52]
9. Chapter 9 [3:37]
10. Chapter 10 [3:10]
11. Chapter 11 [3:32]
12. Chapter 12 [3:21]
13. Chapter 13 [3:55]
14. Chapter 14 [3:13]
15. Chapter 15 [3:19]
16. Chapter 16 [4:00]
17. Chapter 17 [2:52]
18. Chapter 18 [3:23]
19. Chapter 19 [3:45]
20. Chapter 20 [3:24]
21. Chapter 21 [2:57]
22. Chapter 22 [4:06]
23. Chapter 23 [4:48]
24. Chapter 24 [3:50]
25. Chapter 25 [3:29]
26. Chapter 26 [2:32]
27. Chapter 27 [2:46]
28. Chapter 28 [6:41]

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4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It wasn't until I saw this movie, that there was a NAZI operation going on using Jewish people and criminal counterfeiters. I knew there was counterfeiting in the Third Reich, but not done by so many innocent people.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Survival of the Shrewdest, August 7, 2008 By Grady Harp (Los Angeles, CA United States) - See all my reviews Die F&#228 lscher (The Counterfeiters) deserves its Oscar as the Best Foreign Film of 2007. Based on a true story and singed with horrifying details of the Nazi treatment of 'detainees' (primarily Jews) during WW II, the inner story of this film is one of resilience and survival against near impossible odds and how one man turned his criminal gifts into a system so impressive that he served as a 'provider' of funds to the financially depleted Third Reich war effort. The story is in itself fascinating enough to hold our interest for the duration of the film, but it is the incredibly ingenious and wily character of Salomon 'Sally' Sorowitsch that burns a space in our minds of how one man survived the concentration camps and in his own way helped fellow Jews to likewise survive the Holocaust. Salomon 'Sally' Sorowitsch (Karl Markovics) is a brilliant counterfeiter, a Russian Jew so gifted in his ability to forge documents such as passports that he is able to live the 'good life' - money, women, gambling, etc. - until he is arrested by the Nazis and placed in a detention camp Sachsenhausen north of Berlin. His facile mind sees his possible extermination and leads him to make a deal with the Nazis to spare his life (and the lives of his elected doomed accomplices) in return for making counterfeit money (British pounds) so desperately needed to fill the coffers of the dwindling Nazi resources. He and his confr&#232 res are afforded comfortable living space, good foods, and other amenities in a special sector of the concentration camp, a place where they can spend their time turning out volumes of money for the Nazis. In this way many of these 'selected' men manage to stay alive until the war is over, but the 'hero' character of Sally Sorowitsch remains an enigma of sorts: his cunning ideas are basically self centered and his focus remains on his own survival and ultimate gratification of yet another successful counterfeit business. In other words, his story leaves a feeling of uneasiness with the viewer - is this a survivor to admire or is this a 'player' whose sense of compassion is marred by his own selfish goals? The viewer is left to decide. Though Karl Markovics is very strong in the leading role, the supporting cast of some of Germany's finest actors brings a depth of humanity and perception to the major issue the film addresses - both death and survival in the onerous concentration camps of the Nazis. Director/screenwriter Stefan Ruzowitzky deserves kudos for the manner in which he shows both sides of the seminal situation. His cinematographer Benedict Neuenfels manages to capture the lurid light of the confined men and makes the intolerable almost tolerable to watch: the haunting musical score by Marius Ruhland completes the atmosphere. This is a powerful movie on every level, but it is a very disturbing film in many ways. It will make the viewer think - and that is most definitely a strong point of this film. In German with English subtitles. Grady Harp
Anonymous More than 1 year ago