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 ... See full summary »
In World War II, the sanitation engineer and family man Kurt Gerstein is assigned by SS to be the Head of the Institute for Hygiene to purify the water for the German Army in the front. Later, he is invited to participate in termination of plagues in the concentration camps and he develops the lethal gas Zyklon-B. When he witnesses that the SS is killing Jews instead, he decides to denounce the genocide to the Pope to expose to the world and save the Jewish families. The idealist Jesuit priest Riccardo Fontana from an influent Italian family gives his best efforts being the liaison of Gerstein and the leaders of the Vatican. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Stefan Lux was a Jewish Czech journalist, who committed suicide in the general assembly room of the League of Nations during its session, July 3, 1936, to alert the world on the perils of German antisemitism. After shouting "C'est le dernier coup" ("This is the final blow") he shot himself with a revolver. See more »
In one of the scenes they say that the Treblinka camp is out of gas, referring to Zyklon B. Treblinka didn't use Zyklon B, instead they used carbon monoxide. See more »
[interrupting a session of the Assembly of the League of Nations, Geneve, 1936]
My name is Stephan Lux. I am Jewish. The Jews are being persecuted in Germany and the world doesn't care.
[He draws a pistol]
I see no other way to reach people's hearts.
[He shoots himself]
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The challenge for Kurt Gerstein after the war, in the hands of the allies, and for Costa-Gavras in this film, is to convince us that he, Kurt Gerstein S.S. officer, was bravely acting as the "eyes of God" in watching the holocaust unfold before his eyes. It is hard to believe that a man of conscience could actively participate in something he found so entirely heinous. But the amazing work of Gavras and Ulrich Tukur who plays Gerstein succeeds. It is very difficult to play a noble and virtuous man and not become a saintly characature. Tukur succeeds in rounding out a believable character who inspires us to believe in man's innate goodness. Indeed Tukur pretty much has to carry this film and he does. Kudos. Mathieu Kassovitz as the young Jesuit priest is not as strong but his character is less central to the story.
This film is very powerful. In it's veiled presentation of the holocaust it manages to convey the horror with as much emotional impact as any previous film dealing with this dark history. The real sorrow, for me, is to watch our protagonists struggle believing that "if only the world knew" there would be an outpouring of outrage that would put a stop to the atrocities. Unfortunately these good men don't seem to grasp the darker side of human nature that can turn a blind eye. In the final chapter a brilliant plot twist brings home the horror in the most personal of ways to all of those Vatican "diplomats".
A powerful, horrible and beautiful film.
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