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The E-Sylum:  Volume 11, Number 9, March 2, 2008, Article 29

MOVIE REVIEWS: THE COUNTERFEITERS

[We've been following the story of the Austrian film "The
Counterfeiters", which won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language
Film at last week's Academy Awards.  The film chronicles the
story of 'Operation Bernhard", the WWII Nazi counterfeiting
scheme involving concentration camp inmates.  Here are excerpts
from some recent reviews of the film, which has been shown in
the U.S. with English subtitles.  Has anyone had the opportunity
to see it?  Let us know your thoughts. -Editor]

As far as possible, Ruzowitzky hewed close to the historical
record, adapting the script from The Devil's Workshop, a book
by Adolf Burger, one of the Sachsenhausen forgers. Burger had
been a printer in Slovakia before the war; his wife died in
Auschwitz. The character of Sally in the film is based on the
real-life Salomon Smolianof, who had been Burger's best friend.
Still alive at 90, Burger visited the film's set.

Ruzowitzky spent a month before the shoot rehearsing the cast,
but only a month on set, an abbreviated schedule that was
deliberate. "I wanted to shoot it like a documentary," he
explained, "with lots of hand-held stuff and if you have too
much time, you tend to lose some of the momentum that comes
from rushing."

None of the film's shooting was done inside either Mauthausen,
where Sorowitsch is initially incarcerated, or Sachsenhausen.
Ruzowitzky initially hoped to get inside, but eventually
concluded it would be wrong - if only because of the incongruity
between the horrors lived in those camps and the groaning
tables of catered food laid out for actors and crew.

To read the complete article, see:
Full Story

Save yourself? Or save everyone else? Perhaps one of drama’s
greatest dilemmas, the question is also an incredibly difficult
one to set up with realism, conviction, and consequence. And
that is exactly what “The Counterfeiters” does and what makes
it such great cinema.

I had the benevolent dumb luck to wander into a midnight
screening of “The Counterfeiters” on the last night of the
Telluride Film Festival without knowing anything about it.
An hour and forty minutes later, I sat there, glad to have
had the fate to wander into the best film playing that week.
After the screening, Ruzowitzky took the stage and struck
me as particularly thankful to have had the chance to make
such a film. A huge smile on his face, he had the rare look
of a man both content with his work and humble in front of it.

“The Counterfeiters” is unique in a world of multimillion-
dollar tent pole features marketed to a shrinking category
of potential product buyers. An action-comedy-romance-Nazi-
spy-art-counterfeiter-war-Holocaust-period piece, the film
has a unique blend of high production values and directorial
vision now found in fewer and fewer theaters. This is an
instance of heartfelt, talented and significant filmmaking,
compelling on a level that is seldom found.

To read the complete article, see:
Full Story

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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