During World War II, an ordinary inhabitant of a ghetto fakes news about Allied offensives to inspire hope for other victims of the Nazi regime.


Peter Kassovitz


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





Cast overview, first billed only:
Robin Williams ... Jakob
Hannah Taylor Gordon ... Lina
Éva Igó Éva Igó ... Lina's Mother (as Eva Igo)
István Bálint István Bálint ... Lina's Father (as Istvan Balint)
Justus von Dohnányi ... Preuss
Kathleen Gati ... Hooker
Bob Balaban ... Kowalsky
Alan Arkin ... Frankfurter
Michael Jeter ... Avron
Mark Margolis ... Fajngold
János Gosztonyi János Gosztonyi ... Samuel (as Janos Gosztonyi)
Liev Schreiber ... Mischa
Armin Mueller-Stahl ... Kirschbaum
Ádám Rajhona Ádám Rajhona ... The Whistler (as Adam Rajhona)
Antal Leisen ... Peg-Leg


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


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:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


Nina Siemaszko's father was actually incarcerated in the Nazi concentration camp of Sachsenhausen during WWII. See more »


The train locomotive in the lower left-hand corner of the DVD cover artwork is correct for southern California when the movie was released in 1999, but it's totally wrong for the movie's setting in 1944 Poland. Its cab profile was used on various diesel-electric models built by General Motors for the North American market from the early 1960s onwards, it has 1990s-style dual low-mounted safety lights, and its red-and-gray paint scheme bears an uncanny resemblance to that used by the Southern Pacific Railroad in the western United States in the late 20th century. 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."
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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 »


Featured in Imaginary Witness: Hollywood and the Holocaust (2004) 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
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User Reviews

Worth a look for an underappreciated performance by Williams and some great supporting cast work
14 August 2000 | by sllansoSee all my reviews

I won't repeat the plot as many other comments have taken care of that. Many of Robin Williams' performances have been Robin Williams playing a character -- there's a wink and a hint that he'll bust out with some shtick at any time. He (or the director, or both) contain that impulse to an impressive degree in this movie and do so without the excessive sincerity that Williams often substitutes for emotion in his other parts. (Good Will Hunting contains an overrated performance of this type.) Example: in the scene where he takes on the voices of Churchill, Stalin, and others, it's wholly within his character's desire to persuade the little girl (who's wonderfully played, by the way) that hope remains. I agree that some of the actors, notably Alan Arkin, aren't very good, but other, less-well-known ones support the movie well. In addition, I thought the production design, cinematography, and editing were thoughtful and well-done. And I liked the ending...

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USA | France | Germany



Release Date:

24 September 1999 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Jakob the Liar See more »

Filming Locations:

Poland See more »


Box Office


$45,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$2,056,647, 26 September 1999

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby | SDDS


Color (Rankcolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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