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Jakob the Liar (1999)

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In 1944 Poland, a Jewish shop keeper named Jakob is summoned to ghetto headquarters after being caught out near curfew. While waiting for the German Kommondant, Jakob overhears a German ... See full summary »



(novel), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
2 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Éva Igó ...
Lina's Mother (as Eva Igo)
István Bálint ...
Lina's Father (as Istvan Balint)
Justus von Dohnányi ...
János Gosztonyi ...
Samuel (as Janos Gosztonyi)
Ádám Rajhona ...
The Whistler (as Adam Rajhona)
Antal Leisen ...


In 1944 Poland, a Jewish shop keeper named Jakob is summoned to ghetto headquarters after being caught out near curfew. While waiting for the German Kommondant, Jakob overhears a German radio broadcast about Russian troop movements. Returned to the ghetto, the shopkeeper shares his information with a friend and then rumors fly that there is a secret radio within the ghetto. Jakob uses the chance to spread hope throughout the ghetto by continuing to tell favorable tales of information from "his secret radio." Jakob, however, has a real secret in that he is hiding a young Jewish girl who escaped from a camp transport train. A rather uplifting and slightly humorous film about World War II Jewish Ghetto life. Written by Anthony Hughes <husnock31@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

ghetto | radio | german | nazi | hope | See All (41) »


He will make you believe. See more »


Drama | War

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for violence and disturbing images | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:




| |


Release Date:

24 September 1999 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Una señal de esperanza  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$45,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$2,056,647 (USA) (24 September 1999)


$4,956,401 (USA) (29 October 1999)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Although thematically the film is very similar in tone and subject with Roberto Benigni's Life Is Beautiful (1997), it actually started production well before the release of the Italian film. See more »


The German officer referred to as "Herr General" wears the insignia of an SS-Colonel. See more »


[first lines]
Jakob Heym: Hitler goes to a fortune-teller and asks, "When will I die?" And the fortune-teller replies, "On a Jewish holiday." Hitler then asks, "How do you know that?" And she replies, "Any day you die will be a Jewish holiday."
See more »

Crazy Credits

Special thanks to the city and peoples of Piotrków, Poland, the city and peoples of Lódz, Poland and the city and peoples of Budapest, Hungary. See more »


Referenced in The Cinema Snob: Ilsa, She-Wolf of the SS (2013) See more »


Beer Barrel Polka (Roll Out The Barrel)
Written by Lew Brown, Wladimir A. Timm (as Wladimir Timm), Jaromir Vejvoda & Vasek Zeman
Performed by Will Glahé (as Will Glahe)
Courtesy of MCA Records
By Arrangement with Universal Music Special Markets
See more »

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User Reviews

25 September 1999 | by (Williamsburg, Virginia) – See all my reviews

Maybe the reason I keep hearing so many negative comments on this film is because people aren't seeing it for what it is. It is not a comedy by any stretch of the imagination. It is not an attempt to profit from LA VITA E BELLA (this was filmed in the autumn of '97, before the Benigni film was even released in Italy).

The truth is, JAKOB THE LIAR is an incredible film in its own right. I've read/seen many other Holocaust testimonials (including MAUS and the aforementioned LA VITA E BELLA), but this was by far the most stirring of any of them. I was especially impressed by Robin Williams' performance. Granted, I'm partial to him, but I was completely bowled over by this performance. I believe this is the darkest and most serious role he has ever done, but he pulls it off magnificently.

Don't believe the nay-sayers on this one ... this is incredible. It's a must-see for everyone. Would I lie to you?

22 of 28 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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