6.5/10
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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 »

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

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
... Jakob
... Lina
Éva Igó ... Lina's Mother (as Eva Igo)
István Bálint ... Lina's Father (as Istvan Balint)
Justus von Dohnányi ... Preuss
... Hooker
... Kowalsky
... Frankfurter
... Avron
... Fajngold
János Gosztonyi ... Samuel (as Janos Gosztonyi)
... Mischa
... Kirschbaum
Ádám Rajhona ... The Whistler (as Adam Rajhona)
Antal Leisen ... Peg-Leg
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Storyline

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) »

Taglines:

He will make you believe. See more »

Genres:

Drama | War

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

| |

Language:

Release Date:

24 September 1999 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Una señal de esperanza  »

Filming Locations:

 »

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Box Office

Budget:

$45,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$2,056,647, 26 September 1999, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$4,956,401, 31 October 1999
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

|

Color:

(Rankcolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This movie and its 1974 predecessor were both based on the novel "Jakob der Lügner", written in 1969 by the East German author Jurek Becker. As Jews, Becker and his parents were placed in a Polish Ghetto in 1939. In order to save him from deportation, his parents gave the Germans a false birth date; Becker forgot his real birth date and was never able to discover it later in life. Although he was eventually sent to the concentration camps Ravensbrück and Sachsenhausen, both he and his father survived the war; his mother died of malnutrition after being freed from the camp. His novel "Jakob der Lügner" won the Heinrich-Mann Prize for literature in 1971; Becker died in 1997 of cancer. See more »

Goofs

The movie is set in Poland (hence the Polish-languaged signs on buildings, eg Jakob's café), but 'Mischa' is a Russian name (a diminutive form of 'Mikhail'/'Mikal' ('Michael'). See more »

Quotes

[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 »

Connections

Referenced in Film Geek (2005) See more »

Soundtracks

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

 
Dark comedy, with an appropriately surreal ending
14 October 1999 | by See all my reviews

What I like about Jakob's tale is that Jakob is no natural hero who sets out to keep hope alive. Far from it. He is an ordinary man, and as terrified of the Nazis as any of his neighbors in the ghetto. He blunders his way into his unlikely role as a keeper of hope, and once there, cannot see from moment to moment how he can maintain it, wishes at times he could be rid of the burden, and yet somehow, manages to continue to inspire others who are so desperate for hope, they don't even try to disbelieve. In short, don't be fooled by the title: Jakob is just this guy; plotwise, he is only a hub around which a large wheel turns.

There were parts that didn't work for me, especially pieces where narration would have worked better than a character monologue (Jakob is a narrator as well as a character, so why does he talk to himself instead of us so much?) But on the whole, it was a good story, well performed by those involved.

The ending, which I shall refrain from describing for the benefit of any who have not seen it, is absolutely fitting. It is surreal, which may bother some, but leaves the door open to so many interpretations that you will wonder whether to take it as the true end, or whether it was Jakob's final lie. And fittingly, the decision is left in the mind of the viewer.


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