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Purchase The Counterfeiters (2007) Movie Online and Download - Stefan Ruzowitzky 🎥
Germany, Austria
Crime, Drama, War
IMDB rating:
Stefan Ruzowitzky
Karl Markovics as Salomon 'Sally' Sorowitsch
August Diehl as Adolf Burger
Devid Striesow as Sturmbannführer Friedrich Herzog
Martin Brambach as Hauptscharführer Holst
August Zirner as Dr. Klinger
Sebastian Urzendowsky as Kolya Karloff
Andreas Schmidt as Zilinski
Tilo Prückner as Dr. Viktor Hahn
Norman Stoffregen as Abramovic
Bernd Raucamp as KZ-Insasse Dusche
Gode Benedix as 1. KZ-Insasse
Oliver Kanter as 2. KZ-Insasse
Dirk Prinz as SS-Wache
Marian Kalus as Plappler
Storyline: The Counterfeiters is the true story of the largest counterfeiting operation in history, set up by the Nazis in 1936. Salomon "Sally" Sorowitsch is the king of counterfeiters. He lives a mischievous life of cards, booze, and women in Berlin during the Nazi-era. Suddenly his luck runs dry when arrested by Superintendent Friedrich Herzog. Immediately thrown into the Mauthausen concentration camp, Salomon exhibits exceptional skills there and is soon transferred to the upgraded camp of Sachsenhausen. Upon his arrival, he once again comes face to face with Herzog, who is there on a secret mission. Hand-picked for his unique skill, Salomon and a group of professionals are forced to produce fake foreign currency under the program Operation Bernhard. The team, which also includes detainee Adolf Burger, is given luxury barracks for their assistance. But while Salomon attempts to weaken the economy of Germany's allied opponents, Adolf refuses to use his skills for Nazi profit and would like to...
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Incredible true story with a moral dilemma as it's soul
Cooperating with the enemy has been explored in other holocaust films such as "Kapo" and "The Grey Zone", but the struggle between survival and conscience has rarely been more clearly drawn than in "The Counterfeiters"-- Oscar winner for Best Foreign Film (2008). Based on the memoir "The Devil's Workshop" by Adolf Burger, one of the survivors of the program, "The Counterfeiters" is the story of Operation Bernhard, a little known World War II program engineered by the Nazis to use Jewish prisoners to subvert the currencies of the U.S. and the U.K through forgery. One of the biggest scams of the war, the counterfeiting operation printed over 130 million pounds sterling in its attempt to destabilize the allied cause and help the sinking German economy.

"The Counterfeiters" tells the true story of a group of Jewish prisoners who were recruited from other camps for such a career--much against their wishes, if not for the threat of death. Being skilled craftsmen in their own right, they are all brought together, and realize that so long as they deliver the counterfeit bills to their captives, they'll be spared their lives. Boastful, talented Russian-Jewish counterfeiter Salomon Sorowitsch is sent to the Sachenhausen concentration camp to orchestrate the operation, and forced to deal with a psychopathic guard named Holst (Martin Brambach), who only wants results. At first Salomon has no issues helping the Nazi's for comfortable conditions for himself and staff, but over time it begins to take it's toll. He is torn between his determination to stay alive with the knowledge that producing the perfect American dollar will affect the lives of his fellow workers, as well as undermine the entire Allied cause.

"The Counterfeiters" differs from other films involving the Holocaust in that the emphasis is on the personal moral choices that are made--rather than the overall horror and despair. The two barracks of Jews working on the project are kept in what they call a "golden cage," in which they have enough to eat, beds with clean linen, and piped-in opera music to drown out the sounds of the murders committed on the other side of their thin plywood walls. The prisoners' dilemma over whether to assist the Germans and thereby ensure their continued survival is the heart of the movie, which keeps the focus on moral imperatives rather than the physical ravages of the camps. Ruzowitzky's film is so gripping because his is able to simulate the daily horror's of these men with remarkable subtlety; although the workers are sheltered from seeing the brutality and torture, the screams alone are terrifying. Karl Markovics gives a phenomenal, profound performance and his disturbing moral ambiguity is a the heart of this incredible true story. Stefan Ruzowitzy adapted the book by Adolf Burger, one of the protagonist's fellow prisoners (Diehl). Ruzowitzky's script is beautifully constructed, and to his credit, does not take a position on the internal debate, but gives the viewer enough leeway to question what they would have done in similar circumstances.
See this movie.
I just saw this movie in London last night. There were 5 people in the audience (including myself). What a shame because this was a solid piece of film-making. If you haven't seen The Counterfeiters, go see it. Here's why.

The acting is outstanding all the way through. You will learn more about counterfeiting efforts by the Nazis to undermine the British and Americans. This movie has numerous layers to it, and avoids the typical clichés that all Germans acted one way, and all Jews acted another way. You learn the subtle ways that control over other people is used to manipulate them. Do you put aside your beliefs in order to survive? If so, are you being true to those beliefs? Is it better to be a dead, morally right person or a live, less moral one? These are central themes. Finally, does how we make our wealth matter? These aren't ideas unique to cinema, but the way the movie presents them is.
A slightly different Holocaust story, but a Holocaust story nonetheless
Not a few film critics assert that "The counterfeiters" is not a fully deserved Oscar winner. That presupposes that Oscar is the best arena to judge quality. Integrity-assured voting system notwithstanding, Oscar's key criteria are political, business and quality, often in that order, unfortunately.

This movie opens with a deliberately relaxing tone, complete with a crossover of jazz and flamingo in the background. The establishing sequence, as more than one critic suggest, looks like a James Bond movie. We see the "hero" check into an expensive hotel, open a safe deposit box for his piles of greenback, fling his chips on the casino table as if they were dirt, pick up and bed a woman – all in a matter of a couple of minutes of screen time. All that is done for a purpose – to distance the audience from the unpleasant and sometimes devastating experience his will soon go through.

After the brief prologue, the movie flashes back into the main story, actually quite a simple one, of what happened in a special Nazis concentration camp where a team of skilled prisons were put together to produce a huge supply forged currencies for the purpose of destroying the Allies' economy. That is why the title is in plural – although there is one central figure, "the world's best counterfeiter" (who happens to be a Jew), the story is about a group of people. Faces of different individuals gradually emerge as the story unfolds.

As suggested in my summary line, this is in the final analysis another Holocaust story, but done a little differently. As mentioned, the audience is allowed a little distance so that they can observe the events with a relatively greater level of detachment compared with, say, "The pianist" (while both are good movies). Consistent with the distancing technique, the movie is shot with a composure that looks sometimes like understatement. But make no mistake about it – all the horror, conflict, intrigue and passion are there, but more often as undercurrents.

This is a movie that does not simply assault your emotions (although there is a little of that too) but rather make you think as you watch on. As to whether it should or should not have won the Oscar, I'll have to resort to the all time top movie quote, Clark Gable's closing line in "Gone with the wind".
A day is a day…The Counterfeiters
It is very interesting how it seems that every film about the Holocaust becomes a modern classic. The Counterfeiters is the latest attempt to breathe life into the subject by showing a true tale of how the Nazis bankrolled the end of the war with fake currency. The story itself is very intriguing and worth a history lesson, but as far as a film, what we really are given is one more concentration camp experience. There are the Nazis inflicting brutality on the Jewish prisoners, the token general assuaging his guilt by helping those he can for personal gain, the prisoners wanting to create a revolt, and those that just want to survive. While the pretense of why everyone has been brought together is new and refreshing, the total package is what we have seen over and over again.

Even the gimmick of showing us our lead post-war at the start in order for him to remember the hardships that came before is a bit tired. Would him taking the fake money he made to Monte Carlo after the war scenes have been any different than him going there first, us seeing him make it, and then cutting back? Not really. What is intriguing is the comparison between Sally Sorowitsch pre-incarceration and him in the camp. A scoundrel, as one character says, in his bar before the war, Sally is a cocky criminal and womanizer doing what he can to stay in affluence while also honing his craft to crack the American dollar. Once he is captured and able to con his way into a somewhat safe status among the Jewish prisoners, we see his survival instincts take over. A selfish man before, a selfish man he stays, doing all he can to survive the war, painting and creating portraiture for the Nazis and their cause. The first sign of life we see is his compassion for a fellow captive on his final transfer. A Russian art student like he once was, they shared the same school and professor there, Sally gives up his soup and finally shows the solidarity we would expect in that situation. You see, amongst criminals, it seems, there is a code of honor to not give up one's mates. Every jail is the same, he says, you just have to know the angles and the plays…Sally is a professional at both.

The relationship between this "artist" and his captor Herzog is a very interesting one. Being the man who arrested Sally before the war, Herzog not only got promoted for it, but also decides to enlist him to help his cause in the camp that he has started to control. They need each other to survive and that is one of the things that I love about WWII. These Germans are just as trapped in Hitler's regime as the Jews are, (figuratively, yes I know the Jew's had it much worst). Everyone is expendable and must do their job to survive as a high official can even be shot by nothing more than a whim by his superior. I believe one of the best scenes here is Sally at Herzog's house, meeting his wife and children and their utter inability to comprehend what is happening around them outside their mansion's bubble.

Along with those two, the rapport with Sally and Adolf Burger is fantastic as well. These two are kindred souls yet with one main difference. While Sorowitsch looks for his survival and that of those he can see, Burger wants life for his people and the country being persecuted whether he is alive to see it or not. Their moral fortitude is the same, however, and while they may disagree they will never risk the other in order to do what they believe is right. Either way, both men are key components in the fall of Germany, doing exactly what's needed to be done at the exact right time, even though they could have never known it. Sally's ability to get the forgeries made gave them the time for Burger to stall the manufacturing of American currency just long enough for the army to go bankrupt. It's good to see that Burger, the man who's book the film is based on, decided to not center the tale on himself, only allowing one instance at the end to give himself the credit of being a hero. Instead he allows Sorowitsch to take the stage, showing his leadership and unflappable calmness when confronted with the most dangerous consequences.

When a movie like this relies mostly on the reactions of men at the deaths of their friends, you can't usually say much because it's either believable or not. What makes this stand out, in that regard, is the fact that these men are so far gone that their emotions have been dulled. August Diehl, as Burger, is the best example of this, showing the devastation of finding out what happened to his wife without the capacity to cry. Devid Striesow is great too as Herzog, always being the good businessman, using tough love while also utilizing a reward system to keep morale as high as possible. The way he plays those around him is effective. As our lead Sally, Karl Markovics is perfect. Stoic and always thinking, he portrays the man orchestrating everyone's survival with little movement. His blank stare is as emotive as anything else in the film, especially when he flinches at gunshots that he knows have hit their targets. By not showing emotion, he exudes his feelings even more. Mention should also be made for Sebastian Urzendowsky as Kolya, the young art student that Sally takes under his wing. A broken man, he is the most fragile and animated, infusing some much-needed life into an otherwise retold version of the same story we've seen before.
A tort and important film
The holocaust has offered some very good and important films in cinematic history, such as Schindler's List, Sophie's Choice and the Pianist, but they have Hollywood productions. German and Austrian cinema has often avoided the second World War as subject matter and it's only now that the younger generation is facing up to it, making great films like Downfall. This is a good example of a film that can be produced by though two countries.

The film tells the story of Salomon 'Sally' Sorowitsch (Karl Markovics), a expert Jewish counterfeiter living in Germany. He gets arrested and sent to a hard labour camp where his talents as an artist get him noticed by Nazi commanders. He gets off lightly and ends up being sent to work in Sachsenhausen concentration camp, and assigned to Operation Bernhard. The aim of Operation Bernhard was to make fake British and American currency, flood the nations with them and ruining their economies by making inflection sky-high. It also helped the German war effort by giving them foreign currency to spend. Sorwitsch and the Jews who work in the operation are given better treatment then the rest of the Jews at the camp, but are in an impossible situation: if they do what the Nazis tell them they will get better treatment, but will be helping the Nazis win the war and possibly get killed after the war, or if they don't help they put their will put all the Jews lives at risk and the Nazis will carry on regardless. Sorwitsch has to walk a fine line between all the different factors, including Herzog (Devid Striesow), the SS Commander, and Burger (August Diehl), a very ideological man who resists and delays the operation as much as possible. Sorwitsch has to walk through a moral minefield.

There is excellent acting throughout the film. It is of a high standard, as it needs to be in a film like this (but admittedly I look for excellent acting in every film I watch). Karl Markovics and Devid Striesow bring out the very complex natures of their characters.

The writer/director Stefan Ruzowitzky is a very good storyteller. He has a very earthy style of film-making, using hand-held cameras to follow the action, using as few cuts as possible and thereby giving the film a bit of a document feel. It is not a grossy film. He shows that even the complex nature of the story, and that even for these Jews, who were the lucky ones, their still have the treat of death, and their living conditions were still rustic. There is a excellent script and some how Ruzowitzky tells the story in a very conformable one hour and thirty minutes. Hell, he could have made it longer up to two hours and his would have still been considered short to Schindler's List and The Pianist. He fits in a lot in his lot in a short space of time, he can give directors like Michael Bay a lesson who takes 2 and half hours to say nothing at all.

As mentioned the film also raises the moral dilemma of what is better, survive or die a martyr. It asks what is the better form of victory, whether to survive the war or die if it prevents harm. It raises an interesting debate.

I do however have to knock some points for historical inaccuracies. The film makes out that Operation Bernhard was a last ditch effort by the Nazis, being formed in 1945. In reality it started in 1939, and was very big in 1942 and 43. The film also is a bit more negative towards the commander of the project who in real life told the Jews to work as slowly as possibly when trying to make the dollar. It demanded the German war effort and saved the lives of some Jews.

This is a very good film and a deserved Oscar winner for best foreign language film.
Another touching holocaust story
Be prepared that this is not a bum bum war movie but another interesting film that touched my feelings. The first scene begins on the dreamingly beach of Nice in South of France where I am going always jogging with my wife in my holidays. Then it dives directly in the second world war time telling how the Jewish people were kept and murdered by the Nazis. DIE FÄLSCHER shows how high talented Jewish forgers have been forced by the SS to work with them. I have now a better view about the development of the German machinery. The movie is well directed with a fast pace and full of turns and twists that led to the Oscar as best foreign film of this year. I have never got bored and I liked it.

There have been several respectable productions in the last years about the holocaust as for example THE PIANIST, BLACK BOOK, DER UNTERGANG, DIE LETZTEN TAGE DER SOPHIE SCHOLL or DER LETZTE ZUG. Read for all these mentioned movies my reviews.

Final vote 7/10 and another important DVD for my best of collection.
A shorter Holocaust film that's powerful but not emotionally overbearing
The Holocaust has been revisited in film so many times that I imagine the first thing German-born film actors ask themselves upon meeting is "which film(s) were you a Nazi in?" The crimes of the Nazi Party and the German soldiers carrying out its mission to revive Germany through the mass killing of Jews and other "invalids" are so unfathomable and powerful that filmmakers and storytellers can't help but find so many ways to tell complex stories of morality and human survival."The Counterfeiters" is another one of these films, but lack of originality is absolutely the only knock against it.

"Counterfeiters" focuses on a group of Jews assembled by the Nazis to create mass quantities of Ally currency to be used to decimate Ally economies. It's the same type of lens on the Holocaust, but a different "edition" so to speak. Yet the script is immaculate, the drama understated and effective, the plot completely engaging, and best of all: it's a Holocaust film under two hours -- and a great one at that.

It begins with a morally complex main character, the crooked-faced Salomon "Sally" Sorowitsch (Karl Markovics), who before the war was a professional counterfeiter, one with considerable artistic talent who chose the more "financially sound" career. Simply put, he's a criminal and the crimes of the Holocaust manage to make us sympathetic to him. He's an honest criminal, but a criminal no less. As the leader of his counterfeiting team in a way, following his point of view is extremely interesting. There is his survival instinct, his pride over the work even though it's helping the Nazis and characters such as his friend Burger the printer (Adolf Burger, who wrote the book the film is based on), who pressures him not to do the work and risk death on principle.

These are all familiar Holocaust film themes. There are the Jews who will do anything to stay alive, helping the Nazis or doing whatever they bid for an extra scrap of food and soft beds and those who would be willing martyrs, dying before they stoop to a certain level or help a Nazi.

The difference is in the execution. Stefan Ruzowitzky has done an incredible job adapting Burger's incredible true account. He's identified the key moments and turning points and crafted ideal scenes to help build the plot up. He wastes no time getting to the point. The scenes are short and sweet, giving us bursts of information, emotion and symbolism, sometimes in just a minute. Directing off his own script, he directs us to key visuals that convey all that information like a leftover piece of food that conveys the hunger not always at the forefront of a scene. The pacing is exceptional, especially for a Holocaust film, and though some of the scenes are brutal it doesn't hit the audience over the head with scenes of terror and emotion that go straight for the heartstrings. It's much more subtle and effectively so.

It's hard to visit yet another Holocaust film, but "The Counterfeiters" is worth it because of Ruzowitzky's fine craftsmanship and its overall subtly. It's the impact of a Holocaust film without all the emotionally distressful scenes and the screaming and the heartfelt violin music. The unique story of Sorowtisch and these group of Jews who are given a bit more privilege yet in turn forced to wrestle with a bit of moral guilt makes it a warranted trip into a oft-visited historical genre.

~Steven C

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Counterfeiters-A Real Gem ****
No wonder this won the Oscar for best foreign film of 2007.

Amazing that a Jew was operating in Berlin counterfeiting money as late as 1936. It was also amazing that he didn't suffer the same fate of the rest of his people.

Sure he did not. The Germans used him and others to make phony pounds. This was done to flood the British country with the money so as to create an extreme inflation. Once they succeeded in this, the Nazis turned their attention to the good old American dollar.

These counterfeiters were given the "best" of conditions in concentration camps including soft beds.

The film shows the cohesiveness of these men who worked, while outside death ran supreme.

Naturally, there is a vicious guard whose cruelty goes unmatched.

The film shows how the men deceived the Nazis by stalling with the phony dollars.
The story of a master counterfeiter forced to work for the Nazis.
The war has just ended and Europeans are relaxing in Monte Carlo in the late 1940s. One man has a curious look about him, a faded jacket with an unfaded square on the back. A man with lots of cash, American cash, on him. This movie is about his story, and what influence it had on the outcome of WW II.

Karl Markovics is Salomon 'Sally' Sorowitsch, a Jewish Russian who in the 1930s had an underground reputation as perhaps the very best counterfeiter. People would come to him for fake passports if they needed the best. But one evening, while Sally was still in bed with his lady of the night, the Germans break in on him, arrest him and he is sent to a concentration camp, treated like all Jews were in Nazi Germany.

Sally gets a big break, he is moved to another location without explanation. As we know from history the Germans were going broke and they needed money. Sally's first job was to print fake British currency, which turned out very well. But soon the job became much tougher, he and his crew were ordered to make USA bills, the Germans needed hundreds of millions of dollars.

Sally and his crew, all of them imprisoned Jews, were conflicted. They knew the right thing to do was refuse, so as not to help the Germans win the war. But they knew if they did they would all be shot.

The film does not move very fast, but is a superb character study and a realistic look at the inner workings of German and Jew relations during this time. Karl Markovics is required to carry almost the entire movie and he does it admirably.

SPOILERS: One of Sally's crew is holding out on principle, doing things to make it impossible to make good USA fake money. The Germans are getting impatient, and just in the knick of time the Germans are defeated by the Allies and the war ends. They all are free. But Sally manages to get his hands on several stacks of USA fake money that had been hidden in a wooden window sill, and it is with this he ends up in Monte Carlo.
Nazi depravity.
Powerful, provocative, disturbing, well-acted movie, obviously not a Hollywood product. Unlike the usual sensationalist Hollywood drivel, this movie tells a compelling, unforgettable story that transcends the dismal background in which the story is set. However, like other movies about the Holocaust, the Jews are portrayed as victims who are in moral crisis. What price is one willing to pay to survive? This is the question posed by this movie and it's a question that's been asked time and time again in other movies. But the question really is not applicable to the victims who did what they had to do to try to survive. Instead the moral question is applicable to the Germans who perpetrated the crimes. At what point does an entire nation decide to scrap their culture and follow a path to their own destruction? At what point does a German who is not necessarily a racist or mentally deficient decide to become a Nazi? In the 20th century there was only one nation that became Nazi, and that nation was Germany. So what was their problem? What defect of character caused them, and them alone, to jubilantly follow Adolf Hitler - even as their armies and cities were being systematically destroyed? This movie shows that there were two kind of Nazis - first, one who was completely imbued with anti-Semitic hysteria and therefore completely incapable of rationale thought and second, one who knew better but nonetheless became a Nazi anyway. The former had no moral qualms - they were degenerate, utterly debased, possibly genetically defective, and therefore hopelessly lacking in consciousness. They would have thrown their own parents into concentration camps if ordered to do so. The latter however had a huge problem. They are the fools who CHOSE to become degenerate. How does a police officer transform himself into a smirking, paper-pushing terrorist? This is the question implicit in this movie. The Jews were the victims, their situation was set for them, the Germans the misguided charlatans who decided to make war against almost the entire world causing a conflagration they could not win and who supported a political leadership that is arguably the most discredited in history. The moral bankruptcy of the Germans is starkly portrayed in this movie. Their choices are bizarre and bewildering. To know right from wrong and still do wrong is the theme of this movie and one that the movie presents in a most direct way. How many of us could be an obersturmbahnfuhrer?

This movie also raises another interesting question: were the German Nazis even human? Yes they inhabited the earth in human form, but their behavior was so unique, weird and utterly baffling that it defies all psychiatric explanation. What did the German Nazis see that others did not? For an entire nation to support a plan to exterminate the Jews and enslave all the Slavs is so unreal that it suggests either an organic defect that effected perception and judgment or other more esoteric causes.

On May 31, 1942, over two years BEFORE the D-Day invasion, the British bombed Cologne, Germany, destroying the entire center of the city. It was obvious from that point on that German cities and civilians were open targets and that the Nazi government was incapable of defending the country against attack. Yet Germany kept fighting, and for what? This depressing mindset is portrayed in this movie as the German Nazis sink deeper and deeper into a moral depravity that drives them to concoct the most fantastic criminal schemes in a hopeless cause.
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