Title: Die Fälscher
English title: The Counterfeiters
Language: German Russian Hebrew English
Director: Stefan Ruzowitzky
Writers: Based on Adolf Burger's book The Devil’s Workshop.
Screenplay by Stefan Ruzowitzky
Release Date: 22 March 2007 (Germany)
Genre: Crime | Drama | War
Awards: Oscar: Best foreign-language film 2008
Tagline: It takes a clever man to make money, it takes a genius to stay alive.
Adolf Burger also described the movie as being about "dead men on holiday".
Karl Markovics Salomon 'Sally' Sorowitsch
August Diehl Adolf Burger
Devid Striesow Sturmbannführer Friedrich Herzog
Martin Brambach Hauptscharführer Holst
August Zirner Dr. Klinger
Veit Stübner Atze
Sebastian Urzendowsky Kolya Karloff
Andreas Schmidt Zilinski
Tilo Prückner Dr. Viktor Hahn
Lenn Kudrjawizki Loszek
Norman Stoffregen Abramovic
Bernd Raucamp KZ-Insasse Dusche
Gode Benedix 1. KZ-Insasse
Oliver Kanter 2. KZ-Insasse
Dirk Prinz SS-Wache
The Counterfeiters is a well crafted film based on the true story of Operation Bernhard, the largest counterfeiting operation in history producing 132 million in British Pounds Sterling.* The depiction of the craft of counterfeiting is geekily interesting, showing the different ways in which currency is produced, from the materials used in the paper to the specific printing techniques.
This is a movie largely set in a WorldWar II POW camp.
As with any movie set within the context of war this movie is dark, depressing, violent and leaves one with a raw horror at individual and systemic brutality. The characters and tensions within the story however, are more universal than WWII. There is a raw candour and complexity in the shifting motivations and actions of the characters which helps it move beyond stereotypes to show challenges and questions of ethics and choice which feel just as applicable in current times.
The characters are each trying to find a way to make good decisions. Their scoping of 'good' has a critical impact on their choices and actions. Some characters are protecting themselves as individuals, some are looking out for loved ones, some are considering the safety of counterfeiting group as a team and some are looking at the impact of their actions as it effects the war more broadly. I think these subtleties in loyalty and perception are interesting in society generally and the film made me think about the ways in which we scope value and priority in contentious situations.
There is a wrenching contrast between the lifestyle of the Germans, the counterfeiters and the conditions for prisoners in the surrounding camp. Stepping out of a cinema with these contrasts vividly in mind to enter a glittering evening street full of cheerful restaurants and trendy clothing boutiques was jarring. I couldn't help but compare my own lifestyle to that of the German family in the film, and to wonder about the cultures which might make a strong correlation for the interdependent prisoner communities. War in other nations, sweat shops, and imbalances of trade felt closer as I walked down the street listening to the laughter and the chink of glasses.
(*There are some differences between the name and amount of money produced in this node and the Operation Bernard node.
I am using http://www.imdb.com as a reference and am happy to correct if this is incorrect)