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The Debt

4.3 out of 5 stars 43 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

1964: three young Mossad agents capture the Surgeon of Birkenau, a monstrous Nazi war criminal. While being brought to public trial, the Surgeon manages to escape. Faced with failure in their mission, the agents report their captive committed suicide and return to Israel as national heroes. 1997: more than thirty years later, the supposedly dead Surgeon resurfaces in the Ukraine, determined to confess his crimes. Rachel Brener, one of the three Mossad agents, must now track down and silence the Surgeon in order to protect the life and reputation she has built upon her fabricated past.

Special Features

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Product Details

  • Actors: Gila Almagor Yehezkel Lazarov, Alexander Peleg Edgar Selge
  • Directors: Assaf Bernstein
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: German
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Unrated
    Not Rated
  • Studio: MPI HOME VIDEO
  • DVD Release Date: February 14, 2012
  • Run Time: 113 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00699G65E
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #108,227 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Paul Allaer TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 13, 2012
Format: DVD
"The Debt" (original 2007 release from Israel; 100 min.) brings the story of 3 Mossad agents in the mid-60s hunting down (fictitious) Nazi criminal Dieter Vogel a/k/a the "Surgeon of Birkenau" who is now living in Berlin and working as a doctor in private practice. In fact they manage to abduct and capture Vogel. However before they are able to transport/smuggle Vogel out of Berlin into Israel, Vogel manages to escape. The 3 Mossag agents now are faced with a terrible embarrasment for both themselves and Israel. They decide to cover up what has happened, simply saying that Vogel was killed in a struggle. The agents then return to Israel in triumph. That is where the movie really takes off, examining the legacy/debt of living with such a lie. Then one day 30 years later, there is a rumor that a man claiming to be Surgeon of Birkenau is alive and well in Ukraine. I will not spoil the rest of the plot, you'll just have to see it for yourself.

Maybe you saw the 2011 Hollywood remake starring Helen Mirren, Sam Worthington and Jessica Chastain, maybe not. I saw the Hollywood remake last year, and when I compare the two, the original movie shines and is simply better. Why you may ask? Several reasons: one, there is a huge plot point that is radically different in the two movies, which I simply cannot understand why Hollywood felt compelled to change. Two, the Hollywood remake focues way too much on the love triangle (or not) between the female and the 2 male Mossad agents, which is absent in the original movie. As a result of the latter, the original movie is riveting and tense from start to finish, whereas the Hollywood movie has to have the occasional romantic interlude. I'm not saying that the Hollywood remake is bad per so, it is not.
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Format: DVD
With a high profile American remake hitting theaters (starring Helen Mirren, Sam Worthington, Tom Wilkinson, and Jessica Chastain among others), I hope that the riveting 2007 Israeli picture that is its source material will get much more attention. This complicated adult thriller works on a myriad of levels and absolutely knocked me out when I first saw it. A complex narrative featuring alternate timelines highlights a tale of responsibility and recriminations across decades and international borders. Serious political thrillers can oftentimes be antiseptic or too aloof, but this hard-edged story covers a lot of ground while still remaining an intensely personal experience. At its heart, it is about individuals with a strong sense of duty battling with the morality and ethics of the position that they are put into. Emotionally and intellectually challenging, this is a film of unrelenting tension that had me enthralled throughout its running time.

Starting in 2007, the film opens with an ex-Mossad agent played by Gila Almagor stepping up to receive accolades upon the publishing of her account of an infamous case thirty-five years in the past. As a young agent, she was part of a team that took down an infamous war criminal. All, however, might not be what it seems when it comes to this momentous event. Through a series of tensely escalating flashbacks, we are clued in to what really happened in 1964--and it does not match the official accounting. Still struggling with the truth, Almagor is given a very real chance to face the repercussions of her decisions as a youth. She decides to put herself on the line again out of a combined sense of duty and guilt, and the picture continues to play out as a timely and relevant morality play.
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A friend recommended the U.S version (with Helen Mirren, 2011), but I love foreign films and liked the idea that this was the original version. Even though there were only 2 reviews, both highly recommended the film. I saw this via Amazon Instant Video. It does keep you on the edge till the very end. I haven't seen the later version so can't provide a comparison, but the acting here in the Israeli version was excellent and the story told very well. The one "spy" or female agent showed warmth and a very human side, unlike what you might expect. I'd highly recommend it.
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Even though the film is in Israeli subtitles, you are quickly drawn into the story of the Mossad agents and their pact. The plot weaves the past and the present in such a way you don't even realize that the actors are not speaking English!! And the fight scene at the end must be seen to be believed. Helen Mirren and Co. did a nice job on the remake, but it doesn't touch the original.
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Although the English version with Helen Mirren (whom I love and would watch in anything) is good - it can't hold a candle to this, the original. Don't be put off by having to see it in Hebrew with sub-titles - two minutes into it and you forget they are there.
It's a sensitive and moving story - and a superb film.
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I found the film very entertaining! It reflected in many ways reality of what can and sometimes happen when a team or a single person is put to the test. It also reflects the difficulty of carryout a mission. Then there is the question of honor, commitment and integrity! Some people change over the years while others remain steadfast to their ideals. I would love to say more about this film but then I would spoil it for those who have not yet seen 'The Debt.' Let me only say that good conquers evil and some bad people are completely wrong about other people on how they will react when the chips are down. I gave it five stars because the film was well done! It also showed that all is possible if you think it is and do not get hung up on the negatives or obstacles of the situation you encounter while accomplishing an almost impossible goal!
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