Follows the dark tale of Salomon Sorowitsch, a Jewish concentration camp prisoner who saves his own skin – and betters his lot – by working as a crack counterfeiter for the Nazis.

4

The new Austrian film The Counterfeiters, won “Best foreign language film” at this year's Academy Awards and is a stunning piece of cinema…

It's based on the true story of “Operation Bernhard”: which was set up by the Nazi's in 1942 and was the largest ever counterfeiting operation in history. Its aim was to help finance the German war effort and cripple the Allies' economies.

Salomon Sorowitsch, a Russian Jew, is arrested for the crime of counterfeiting and is sent to a concentration camp at the beginning of the war. While there, he is chosen along with other inmates, for their skills in graphics and printing, to man “Operation Bernhard”.

Sorowitsch, played brilliantly by Karl Markovics, is a flawed criminal who believes anything is for sale. He is pitted against Adolf Burger, a Jewish social activist and a man full of integrity; whose book this film is based on.

The tension between these two characters creates a good moral dilemma and inspires debate. Austrian director Stefan Ruzowitzky has done a fine job at presenting a provocative lively film that is ostensibly about the survivor and what he's prepared to do to live.

The Counterfeiters is shot with an amazing amount of detail and authenticity. And the film is both engrossing and confronting, mainly due to the complexity of Sorowitsch - a flawed man but one full of humanity.

This film well deserves its Academy Award. 4 stars.

 

The Counterfeiters

Friday 7 February, 9:35PM on SBS World Movies (now streaming at SBS On Demand)

MA15+
Germany, 2008
Genre: Drama, Crime, War
Language: German
Director: Stefan Ruzowitzky
Starring: August Diehl, Karl Markovics, Devid Striesow
What's it about?
Salomon 'Sally' Sorowitsch (Markovics) is an expert Jewish counterfeiter enjoying the good life until he’s sent to Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp. Sally manages to survive for five years before transfer to Sachsenhausen, where he is assigned to produce perfect forgeries of British and US banknotes for the Third Reich. Winner of the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, 2008.