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Jacob the Liar

4 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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(Dec 14, 2004)
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Editorial Reviews

Trapped in a Polish Ghetto with thousands of other Jews facing starvation or deportation to the death camps, Jacob is detained one evening at Gestapo headquarters. Eavesdropping, he overhears a radio report about a nearby Russian victory. At first he is silent, but circumstances compel him to pass on the good news of hope. In order to be believed, he feigns access to a hidden, strictly forbidden radio. Quickly he becomes a one-man bulwark against despair, a reluctant hero, but a tragic figure still-a man ultimately powerless to see or change the fate of his people. Jacob the Liar is a heartbreaking yet funny film that enlivens with the sheer power of its insight.

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Vlastimil Brodský, Erwin Geschonneck, Henry Hübchen, Blanche Kommerell, Manuela Simon
  • Directors: Frank Beyer
  • Writers: Frank Beyer, Jurek Becker
  • Producers: Gerd Zimmermann
  • Format: Color, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: German (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: First Run Features
  • DVD Release Date: December 14, 2004
  • Run Time: 100 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00001REA8
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #208,893 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Jacob the Liar" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
It looks like Amazon has accidentally combined the reviews for both the original and the re-make. I haven't seen the re-make, This review is of the original film.

Only a very few films have succeeded in treating the plight of the Jews under the Nazis with a sense of humor, but this is one of them. Sort of an earlier variation on 'Life is Beautiful', but this is far less saccharine, and the humor here is dry and sad, not slapstick and wacky.

In a Jewish ghetto in 1944, Jacob is brought to the police station for curfew violation. There he hears news on the radio that the Russians are advancing nearer. He uses this hopeful news to stop a fellow ghetto resident from committing sure suicide by trying to steal extra food. But in a moment of foolishness, Jacob claims he heard the news on his own secret radio. Soon the entire town is hounding him for positive news, and the shy quiet Jacob has become an unwanted celebrity and bringer of hope, forcing him into a moral quandary and more lies. The power of this simple fable is enhanced by some very touching flashbacks where we see these now beaten down characters as their lives were just a few years before - full of love, laughter, food to eat, nice homes.

Vlastimil Brodsky is great as Jacob, even if he's unfortunately dubbed into German. He avoids the traps of sentimentality or self-pity. Right to the end this is an honest and moving tale of trying to retain one's humanity in the face of ever more overwhelming odds. The hard-to- find DVD could have a better image, but the print was apparently in bad shape from ill- storage in East Germany. (This was the only East German film ever nominated for an Oscar)
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Format: VHS Tape
I thouroughly enjoyed this movie, which takes place in a Jewish ghetto during the holocaust. It has a nice combination of humour, drama, and sadness. In the end it brought me to tears. It really shows the desperation of hopelessness facing the Jewish people in Germany during the holocaust, and the cruelty of the Germans towards them at that time.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
There are two films named "Jacob the Liar". The Robin Williams film (actually spelled "Jakob the Liar") is a remake of the film displayed above, which was an award-winning East German film of the 1970s. You can ignore any of the reviews below which mention Robin Williams, since they have been posted here in error.
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Format: DVD
This move has a very powerful ending, but unfortunately it is a chore to get there. The script and many of the characters aren't all that interesting. The acting is mixed--Manuela Simon, who plays Jacob's ten-year old (or so) niece, out-acts them all, except for of course Vlastimil Brodský (Jacob) and Erwin Geschonneck (Kowalski) who do give fine performances. There is nothing notable about the other performances. The film moves along at a stagy, slow pace. The deprivations of life in the Ghetto are not fleshed out. Same with the brutality of the Nazis. This makes the film seem at best ungenuine and at worst dishonest. But the powerful ending makes up for it all. However, I wish there had been more interesting drama along the way. There's no tension in the film at all. It reminded me a bit of Gus Van Sant's "Elephant," where we see the mundane, somewhat boring day in the life of some high school students--it moves at a snail's pace, but that's what makes the ending especially shocking and disturbing. Also in Jacob the Liar there are some (in my opinion unsuccessful) attempts at humor. But the subject of the film is no laughing matter. So I have a lot of nits to pick with this film, but I'll be haunted by the ending forever.
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Format: DVD
It's a very good movie , that ilustrate in a excellent way the way people sufer in places like this . Excelent Movie
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