The Counterfeiters Stefan Ruzowitzky

The Counterfeiters Stefan Ruzowitzky
The kids at the Academy certainly did something right when they selected German film The Counterfeiters as Best Foreign Language Picture at the 2007 Oscars. And as a recent addition to the ever-growing pantheon of WWII movies, this offering from writer/director Stefan Ruzowitzky definitely stands out in a good way. The Counterfeiters follows the life of Salomon Sorowitsch (Karl Markovics), a crook hailed as Berlin’s "King of Counterfeiters” until he is arrested and imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp. But with his uncanny knack for survival, Sorowitsch’s unique talents don’t go unnoticed and he is transferred to the top secret counterfeiters’ workshop in Sachsenhausen (aptly named the "Golden Cage”) where inmates enjoy privileges unheard of in a concentration camp: ample food, soft beds and of all things, a Ping-Pong table. But as they begin to realize that their work in counterfeiting millions of British pound notes is directly financing the flagging Nazi war effort, the prisoners come to face a compelling ethical conflict. Survival-driven utilitarianism meets head on with idealism and moral principles, and the resulting complex relationships between characters are brilliantly portrayed, most notably by the incredibly versatile Karl Markovitz in the enigmatic lead role. The DVD is chock full of special features, including deleted scenes, a "making of” featurette and interviews with director Stefan Ruzowitzky, actor Karl Markovitz and 90-year-old Adolf Burger, a surviving Sachsenhausen counterfeiter on whose memoirs the film is based. Most impressive of these features is the comprehensive director’s commentary, which takes us scene by scene through the thought processes behind the casting, production and historical basis for the film. This provides a fascinating amble through the riveting storyline of The Counterfeiters, an original work that brings to light the largest counterfeiting operation in history. (Mongrel Media)