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The Counterfeiters (+ BD Live) [Blu-ray]

4.3 out of 5 stars 119 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Winner of the Academy Award® for Best Foreign Language Film, The Counterfeiters tells the true story of Salomon Sorowitsch (Karl Markovics), a swindler who made a name for himself as Berlin's "King of the Counterfeiters." However, his life of women and easy money is cut short when he's arrested and placed in a Nazi concentration camp. With the German army on the verge of bankruptcy, Sorowitsch makes a sobering deal with his captors: in exchange for a comfortable bed, good food and fair treatment, Sorowitsch, along with the other hand-picked specialists, must counterfeit bank notes to fund the Nazi War effort. If he does as they say, he lives another day. If he rebels, he faces the same fate as the rest of the camp's prisoners. But if he lives, will he be able to live with himself?

A deft blend of suspense and docudrama, Stefan Ruzowitzky's sixth feature focuses on history's largest counterfeiting operation. Before World War II breaks out, Salomon Sorowitsch (the compact yet steely Karl Markovics), a Russian-born Jew, lives the good life in Berlin. He forges documents, like passports and banknotes, and sketches beautiful women to the romantic strains of tango records. Sorowitsch's dolce vita comes to an end when he's sent to Mauthausen concentration camp. Once Reich officials decide to deploy imprisoned printers, craftsmen, and bank officials to counterfeit foreign currency, they draft Sorowitsch for "Operation Bernhard" and ship him to Sachsenhausen. Though he and his colleagues receive preferential treatment, the threat of execution hangs over their heads at all times. First, they master the pound; then they tackle the American dollar. At this point, communist co-worker Adolf Burger (The Ninth Day's excellent August Diehl) suggests sabotage. As he explains, they're extending the conflict and increasing the death toll, but the entire team will suffer if they fail, even their SS supervisor, Freidrich Herzog (Downfall's Devid Striesow), whose career depends on it. As Jews, however, they stand to lose more than their jobs. Based on Burger's book The Devil's Workshop, Austria's Ruzowitzky (Anatomy) sheds a compassionate light on the guilt and complicity of survivors. Though The Counterfeiters plays more like a prison camp movie than a Holocaust drama--Stalag 17 comes to mind--that doesn't make it any less significant, just less wrenching than some of its counterparts. --Kathleen C. Fennessy

Stills from The Counterfeiters (click for larger image)

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Tim Breyvogel, Dolores Chaplin, Marie Bäumer, Karl Markovics, August Diehl
  • Directors: Stefan Ruzowitzky
  • Producers: Josef Aichholzer, Nina Bohlmann, Babette Schröder
  • Format: AC-3, Blu-ray, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: German
  • Subtitles: French, English, Spanish
  • Dubbed: French
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: August 5, 2008
  • Run Time: 99 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (119 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0018CWW50
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #23,481 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Counterfeiters (+ BD Live) [Blu-ray]" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Grady Harp HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 7, 2008
Format: DVD
Die Fälscher (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 confreres 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.
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Oscar-winning (Best Foreign Language Film) "The Counterfeiters" is inspired by true events during World War II. Some of the main characters of the Austrian/German film are based on real persons and one of them Adolf Burger, a Slovak typographer, wrote a memoir "The Devil's Workshop" which became the basis of the film. Burger's book is about "Operation Bernhard," Nazi's secret plans of forging English and American currency. Against the background of one of the largest counterfeiting schemes in history, Director Stefan Ruzowitzky (best known for his medical suspense "Anatomy" starring Franka Potente) has successfully created a tense thriller with powerful moments.

The film centers on Salomon Sorowitsch (Karl Markovics), forger of documents. After being arrested in pre-war Berlin, a Russian Jew Solomon Sorowitsch is sent to a concentration camp. We discover though Salomon is not a heroic figure, he is clever. He learns to survive the horrible conditions of life there by drawing portraits of Nazi officers.

But more drastic change awaits him when he is later put in charge of one secret mission conducted by Nazis code-named "Operation Bernhard" - Salomon and other inmates (mostly Jewish prisoners) are confined in an inner section at Sachsenhausen concentration camp and are ordered to forge British bank notes.

One thing is certain. They must succeed. They also know Nazi officers would not wait long. But to succeed means to prolong the war and some of the fellow counterfeiters are aware of that too. This is where Adolf Burger (brilliant August Diehl) steps in, insisting on sabotage even though the delay could mean their death.
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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.
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