Published on August 29th, 2008 | by Chris0
The Counterfeiters / Die Fälscher (2007)
The Counterfeiters (or Die Fälscher as its known in its native Deutschland) is a sad, sad, depressing, and somber look at the Nazi's effort to undermine the economies of its enemies during the war by dumping millions in counterfeit notes into their systems.
Unfortunately they utilized Jewish prisoners who possessed specific skills for their nefarious deeds. The story is told from the point of view of one of them, Salomon Sorowitch (Karl Markovics), who was a gangster and counterfeiter in his former life. Just the kind of man they need. Early on, he's betrayed, arrested and thrown into prison by Friedrich Herzog. Herzog will later re-appear as the leader of this "project."
The movie, though, is about one thing. Survival. Sorowitsch and his counterparts are torn between helping the Nazis in the war effort and simply staying alive. Dealing with the guilt of having it relatively well, with proper beds, and food, while their Jewish compatriots are tortured and murdered. Only one of them has any designs on sabotaging the operation, and nearly finds himself on the wrong side of his comrades.
Interestingly, Herzog's character finds himself in much the same predicament. Unlike your typical Nazi thug, he is simply doing what he must to survive as well. By fulfilling his duty and performing his job in order to keep himself and his family safe. He actually employs Sorowitsch at one point to create a set of Swiss passports to get his family out of the Nazi regime. While I was surprised to find such a compassionate (for lack of a better word) portrayal of a Nazi officer, especially in a German-borne film, it does make the film a great deal thicker. Is there any difference between Sorowitsch and Herzog? Which one of them is "the bad guy" here? You'll have to figure that out for yourself.
Unfortunately the film just seems to really lack any personality. Other that being consistently dark and gloomy and depressing. Sorowitsch never seems to be anything but sullen, even in the "before" and "after" scenes, he doesn't seem to portray much emotion at all. On purpose? Hard to say, but he could have been a bit more, well, something.
The horrors of the camps are only touched upon here and there, and that is probably for the best as far as this movie is concerned. To do otherwise would have shifted the focus away from the counterfeiting operation and the struggles within, and would have made for a much more confusing picture.
Did I like it? It was interesting throughout, although I can't say it was particularly "enjoyable", and that's how it should be. Parts were downright uncomfortable, but not enough to completely ruin it.
The Counterfeiters provides a semi-historical look into an oft overlooked aspect of the war, and does so with enough grit and realism to make it believable, but just seems lacking in a few respects, while excelling in others. I really did like it, as a movie, but I'm not sure I'd watch it again any time soon.
Summary: The Counterfeiters provides a semi-historical look into an oft overlooked aspect of the war, and does so with enough grit and realism to make it believable, but just seems lacking in a few respects, while excelling in others.