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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) »


When all hope was lost, he invented it. 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 »


At the beginning of the film, when Jakob starts chasing the paper, it is clearly light outside, even though it is 7:30 pm in the winter in Poland. Then, 25 minutes later, when Jakob told to go to the police building, it is quite dark. In the winter, the sun would have completely set hours before. 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 »


Version of Jacob the Liar (1974) See more »


Rakoczy March
Written by Hector Berlioz
Performed by Cleveland Pops Orchestra
Conducted by Louis Lane
Courtesy of Sony Classical
By Arrangement with Sony Music Licensing
See more »

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User Reviews

Excellent Entertainment
27 October 2004 | by (Bellefonte, PA (USA)) – See all my reviews

If you are interested in the holocaust, and want to be entertained at the same time, Jakob the Liar is your film. This is not intended to be an historical film. And, to be sure, it isn't.

Just speaking for myself, I wish everyone would educate themselves about this horrible episode in human history. If you have a friend who refuses to watch honest historical films, turn them on to Jakob the Liar. It IS Robin Williams, after all. For sure, this film will encourage them to learn more about the holocaust. Its very entertaining and does give some superficial insight into what the atrocity was all about.

Robin Williams did his best. He did a fine job in this film, and deserves even more credit just for making the attempt. On a scale of 1 to 10, I'd give it an 8.

26 of 32 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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