World Cinema

The Counterfeiters directed by Stefan Ruzowitsky

Counterfeiters_ver3 A film in german, this is based on the true story of Operation Bernhard, a secret plan by the Nazis to destabilize the economies of United Kingdom (and later United States) by flooding them with counterfeit money. For this, they put together a team of forgers from the various prisoners in the concentration camps. The leading forger is Salomon ‘Sally’ Sorowitsch, around whom the film revolves.

I think the best part of the movie is the way Sally tries to keep together his men and tries to keep them alive in conditions where the prison guards dont think twice before putting a bullet through your head. A team that consists of a TB patient, a person who decides to rebel on an individual basis to deny the Nazis victory and other characters who compromise for various reasons…among all these, Sally tries to keep himself and his men alive.

What I liked about the character that is Sally is his deadpan expressions which hide a solid though quirky ideology. His main aim is stay alive, at all costs. He does not have an ideology as such nor does he indulge in analysis of the situation on any other basis except whether it keeps him and his men alive…

And as a background runs one of the biggest attempted frauds in history, a scam that could have turned the tide of the war. At the end, it is only Sally and his men who, risking their lives, did not allow this to happen.

It is a fast moving movie whose pace never slackens. The brutality of the camps are shown indirectly and perhaps because of that, the setting seems more terrifying because you realize that for all the ‘better’ treatment that the forgers are getting till the time they are useful, one Counterfeiters.2 failure can lead them straight to the gas chambers.

I think what I liked best about the movie was that it did not moralize or shed tears about the victims and the brutality (there have been too many movies about that – has almost become a template of sorts) but used it as an implicit background and showcased a thriller where the most unlikely men became heroes mostly simply by the defiant act of staying alive and denying their oppressors the final victory…

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