Customer Review

50 of 58 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pounds, 3 Mar 2008
This review is from: The Counterfeiters [2007] [DVD] (DVD)
The New Germany and Austria by extension have been in the process, these past several years, of divesting themselves of National Guilt in regards to the atrocities of World War 2: "Sophie Scholl," "Downfall" and also the superb "Lives of Others" (though set in post WWII East Berlin, it reeks of submission and totalitarianism) speak to the redemptive qualities of confession and penance.
And now we have "The Counterfeiters," the story of Solomon Sorowitsch (Karl Markovics), a Russian-born Jew who spends his life forging documents thereby attaining the reputation of a master counterfeiter. Ultimately he is arrested and sent to a Camp at which he is given the assignment of forging the British Pound note for The Third Reich. This is 1945 and the disastrous German War effort is in dire need of cash to carry on its war effort.
"Counterfeiters" is all about survival and to what means we, as human beings will do to comply in order to live: anything pretty much sums it up and anything pretty much is the reality of our collective desire to live despite the cicumstances.
Director Stefan Ruzowitzky is walking a slippery slope here as the counterfeiting was done in the Nazi concentration camp at Sachsenhausen and the technicians involved were almost all Jews, "The Counterfeiters" raises some provocative moral dilemmas.
Also, the Sorowitsch of Markovics is no paragon of honor. Instead he is a squirrelly, only thinking for himself, con man. He's happy to do what the Nazi's ask of him in order to get the perks of his "exalted position" in Sachsenhausen: clean clothes, good food, soft bedding, and weekly hot showers. "The Counterfeiters" begins with a post war sequence of Sorowitsch spending thousands of counterfeit British Pounds in Monte Carlo: gambling, grooming himself, dining, dating...basically enjoying the fruits of his labors and those of his fellow counterfeiters.
Sorowitsch is one who feels that: "Only by surviving can we defeat them."
"The Counterfeiters" is a difficult film to like but ultimately it speaks to something in all of us: the drive, the desperate need to survive despite the circumstances in which we might find ourselves. Sorowitsch is flawed, a nasty piece of work actually but he's intelligent, crafty and grudgingly and ultimately deserving of our respect.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 23 Mar 2008 16:30:52 GMT
Last edited by the author on 23 Mar 2008 16:40:00 GMT
X. Bond says:
Michael Acuna: This story is a "difficult film to like" sounds like a probable thumbs down. The movie is based on facts so any underlying messages or moral judgements by reviewers seem to be slightly missing the point. The other movie on this subject PRIVATE SCHULTZ from the BBC in 1981 was a spectacular success because it was played with a degree of humour and the so-called villain was not a criminal. Maybe all counterfeiters are cheaters in law but surely we can excuse a talented Jewish man for carrying out this function under duress as it obviously saved his life. This subject seems to be offlimits because it presents a sort of stereotype; but thats way too simplistic.

In reply to an earlier post on 3 Jan 2011 08:42:44 GMT
Last edited by the author on 3 Jan 2011 08:49:16 GMT
Cayenne says:
With regard to 1981's excellent BBC series that you mention, both Schulz (Michael Elphick) and his Jewish friend Solly (Cyril Shaps) were small-time crooks prior to the outbreak of war (and anyone reading this can find the first episode on Youtube). In the series Solly and the other counterfeiters survived, freed by Schulz at the end of the war and Schulz later finds Solly back in Hamburg at work on the new currency. As regards this film, because of Private Schulz, I wasn't going to buy it, but because it is at a bargain price, I shall do and judge the differences.
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