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The Counterfeiters (2007)

Die Fälscher (original title)
R | | Crime, Drama, War | 18 April 2008 (USA)
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The story of the Operation Bernhard, the largest counterfeiting operation in history, carried out by Germany during WWII.

Director:

Stefan Ruzowitzky

Writers:

Adolf Burger (book), Stefan Ruzowitzky (screenplay)
Won 1 Oscar. Another 6 wins & 10 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Karl Markovics ... Sorowitsch
August Diehl ... Burger
Devid Striesow ... Sturmbannführer Herzog
Martin Brambach Martin Brambach ... Hauptscharführer Holst
August Zirner ... Dr. Klinger
Veit Stübner Veit Stübner ... Atze
Sebastian Urzendowsky ... Kolya
Andreas Schmidt Andreas Schmidt ... Zilinski
Tilo Prückner Tilo Prückner ... Hahn
Lenn Kudrjawizki ... Loszek
Marian Kalus Marian Kalus ... Plappler
Norman Stoffregen Norman Stoffregen ... Abramovic
Bernd Raucamp Bernd Raucamp ... KZ-Insasse Dusche
Gode Benedix Gode Benedix ... 1. KZ-Insasse
Oliver Kanter Oliver Kanter ... 2. KZ-Insasse
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Storyline

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 mischievous life of cards, booze, and women in Berlin during the Nazi-era. Suddenly his luck runs dry when arrested by Superintendent Friedrich Herzog. Immediately thrown into the Mauthausen concentration camp, Salomon exhibits exceptional skills there and is soon transferred to the upgraded camp of Sachsenhausen. Upon his arrival, he once again comes face to face with Herzog, who is there on a secret mission. Hand-picked for his unique skill, Salomon and a group of professionals are forced to produce fake foreign currency under the program Operation Bernhard. The team, which also includes detainee Adolf Burger, is given luxury barracks for their assistance. But while Salomon attempts to weaken the economy of Germany's allied opponents, Adolf refuses to use his skills for Nazi profit and would like to... Written by Sony Pictures Classics

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

It takes a clever man to make money, it takes a genius to stay alive See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama | War

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some strong violence, brief sexuality/nudity and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

Austria | Germany

Language:

German | Russian | English | Hebrew

Release Date:

18 April 2008 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Counterfeiters See more »

Filming Locations:

Nice, Alpes-Maritimes, France See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

€4,200,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$87,514, 24 February 2008

Gross USA:

$5,484,715
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

First Austrian film to win an Academy Award in the Best Foreign Language Film Category. See more »

Goofs

Only prisoners admitted to the Auschwitz concentration camp complex had tattoos placed on their left forearms, but this story doesn't take place there and no other camps employed tattooing. Increasingly, movies, paintings, and other media have used the tattooed arm as a "symbol" of the camps or even the Holocaust itself - despite the historical error. There were two series: A ( up until 20,000 - July 30, 1944), and the B series - starting shortly thereafter. Those selected for the gas chambers after arriving were not included. These numbers were meant to be used as an identification marker at the time of death of the prisoner. See more »

Quotes

Salomon 'Sally' Sorowitsch: Only by surviving, we can defeat them.
See more »


Soundtracks

Down By The Riverside
(uncredited)
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
The moral dilemma of helping madmen
24 November 2007 | by Chris KnippSee all my reviews

The story of Die Fälscher had to be told because it is a unique one that reveals both an extraordinary Jeweish experience under the Nazis, that of the arch-counterfeiter and surviver Salomon Sorowitsch (or "Sallie," Karl Markovics), and another level of Third Reich insanity, their idea, or somebody's, of flooding the market with fake pounds sterling and American dollars and thus somehow bringing down the Allies through economic sabotage, late in the game.

On the other hand when one compares this film with something with the grandeur of sweeping Holocaust films like Spielberg's Schindler's List and Polanski's The Pianist, or the poetry of Lajos Koltai's Fateless (Sorstalanság), Ruzowitzsky's film seems somehow pinched and narrow-minded. It's a good story and a tense one but it dos not sing and it will not change your life.

One reason is that the Russian-born Sallie--his story framed by inconclusive later episodes of his gambling after the war-- is such an unappealing figure. He is an ugly little hard-faced man, expressionless at key moments, and extremely difficult to care about. And nobody cares about him. When he gets syphoned off with some others from the direct path to concentration camp death at Mauthausen to work on the Nazi's mad secret project , he is the key to its success. There are bankers, printers, graphic designers, lithographers ; not evidently any other counterfeiters at all, but we take it on faith that he is an ace at the trade, worthy to head up any team aimed at creating banknotes foolproof enough to survive repeated scrutiny in massive quantities. The other men on the team bow to him, because he alone can maintain quality control and make the project a success. But do they want to make it a success? Herein lies the obvious dilemma. For Sorowitsch, survival is the priority. At the opposite extreme, Adolf Burger (August Diehl), a collotype specialist whose printing experience was for leftist political purposes, sabotaging the project is the only real option.

All we know is that SS Chief Inspector Herzog (David Striesow) supervises this business; and it was he who arrested Sorowitsch in the first place. Sorowitsch has managed to gain favor in the camp by putting himself forward as a gifted sketch artist who does portraits of officers families. Apparently this has gone on for years before the counterfeiting scheme began. The screenplay is a bit vague about the background of this effort, who approved it, who masterminded it; obviously it is essential to the welfare of Herzog. But as the Nazis' situation becomes increasingly desperate and Berger's efforts to block the making of a perfect dollar keep succeeding, Herzog himself is in trouble.

There are other important characters that give the story life. The sweet young Russian boy Kolya (Sebastian Urzendowsky) is a purist, living only for his individual style and his love of the classic Russian modernists. Unfortunately he has tuberculosis, and no one can save him, not the resident doctor, Klinger (August Zirner), nor Sallie with his bargaining power over the increasingly desperate Herzog.

All this definitely holds your attention in its rather terrible grip. The duel between Sallie and the idealistic Burger achieves a tormenting level of moral complexity. Sallie is selfish, but in saving himself he is saving the whole team; in wanting to become a martyr Burger is volunteering the others for martyrdom without their permission. in between there are drones and bankers who simply want to do a job and if possible somehow also stay alive. Outside the counterfeiting team's little compound where the beds have nice linen terrible things happen, and sometimes the terror penetrates in to them too.

The most powerful sequence is at war's end when the "real" concentration camp prisoners, dirty, bleeding, and skeletal, creep into the money makers barracks with guns, unable to believe they are prisoners. This sets the experience in the context of nightmare horror and grasps a minute of the awesome poetry of Fateless' final moments, when the fifteen-year-old György Köves wanders into Budapest and takes a tram wearing his prison stripes. Otherwise, good acting and a compelling story still aren't enough to put this in the first rank of films of this genre.


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