As my blog readers know, it takes a lot to impress me when it comes to cinema. Just when I thought it was impossible for films to shed more light on the Holocaust, “The Counterfeiters” has impressed me like no other film in years!
I could go on about the plot. I could go on about the production. I could go on about the acting, directing, lighting, sound, and all those other cinematic drivel that criticis rave on about. But no words could do justice to one of the most brilliant films to grace our screens. This is the winner of the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film for 2008 and justifiably so.
So powerful that it makes “Shindler’s List”, which is also based on actual events, look like a stroll in the park. I simply can’t block out the atmosphere created by Stefan Ruzowitzky. The characters are not archetypes in the sense of goodies and baddies. They are real people with real emotions. As for the counterfeiter himself, Solomon Sorowitsch, so masterfuly portrayed by Karl Markovics (of Inspector Rex fame) I can still see his haunting face as I write this.
His presence is indelibly etched in my mind. Sorowitsch’s determination to survive because survival means defeating the enemy resonates with me. Giving in is no option. Neither is martyrdom for the dead cannot win. So Sorowitsch will resist in his own way and it is up to the audience to decide what price to pay for survival.
The best feature of this film is that it leads to debate about the human condition. In a way, it reminds me of “Papillon” and “King Rat” whose themes also dealt with survival. But “The Counterfeiters” is by far superior to those two.
If you want to know why the Jewish people can never, ever, surrender to their enemies, this film explains it all. And it does it in a compelling, exciting and believe it or not, darkly entertaining manner.