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The Counterfeiters a.k.a. “The Counterfeiter” (International English title), “Die Fälscher,” “Les Faussaires,” “Der Fälscher,” “Förfalskaren,” “Los Falsificadores,” “Falskmyntarna,” “Väärentäjä”

MPAA Rating: R-Rating (MPAA) for some strong violence, brief sexuality/nudity and language

Reviewed by: David Simpson

Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
War History Drama
1 hr. 38 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
February 22, 2008 (limited)
DVD release: August 5, 2008
Copyright, Sony Pictures Classics Copyright, Sony Pictures Classics Copyright, Sony Pictures Classics Copyright, Sony Pictures Classics Copyright, Sony Pictures Classics Copyright, Sony Pictures Classics Copyright, Sony Pictures Classics Copyright, Sony Pictures Classics Copyright, Sony Pictures Classics
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Sony Pictures Classics

money in the Bible

sin and the fall of man

goodness and righteousness

war in the Bible

What is the Biblical perspective on war? Answer

VIOLENCE—How does viewing violence in movies affect the family? Answer

Playboy lifestyle


Should I save sex for marriage? Answer

What are the consequences of sexual immorality? Answer

Sex, Love and Relationships
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Featuring: Karl Markovics, August Diehl, Devid Striesow, Martin Brambach, August Zirner, Veit Stübner, Sebastian Urzendowsky, Andreas Schmidt, Tilo Prückner, Lenn Kudrjawizki, Norman Stoffregen, Bernd Raucamp, Gode Benedix, Oliver Kanter, Dirk Prinz, Hille Beseler, Erik Jan Rippmann, Tim Breyvogel, Dolores Chaplin, Louie Austen, Michael Blohn, Marie Bäumer, Arndt Schwering-Sohnrey, Jan Pohl, Matthias Lühne, Holger Schober, Peter Straub, Werner Daehn, Leander Modersohn
Director: Stefan Ruzowitzky
Producer: Josef Aichholzer, Nina Bohlmann, Henning Molfenter, Babette Schröder, Caroline von Senden, Charlie Woebcken, Sonja B. Zimmer,
Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics

“It takes a clever man to make money; it takes a genius to stay alive.”

“Die Fälsche” (“The Counterfeiters”) is a film of delightful touch, heartbreaking stories, and breathtaking reality. Set during the Nazi’s reign of terror over western Europe, it transports us to the tale of Saloman “Sally” Sorowitsch (Karl Markovics), a Jewish counterfeiter, and also one of the best. He lives a playboy lifestyle in Berlin, until his luck runs out when he is caught by the SS.

He is transported first to the Mauthausen, then the Sachsenhausen concentration camps. Using his skills and ingenuity, he is put in charge of a forging team, run by his captive officer, Friedrich Herzog. Their plan is to use the Jewish prisoners to create forged British pounds sterling, and then the US dollar, in order to flood their markets and crash their economies. The team, many of whom were selected out of Auschwitz, are faced with the choice to follow their orders, or to fight back by disrupting the task they’ve been given.

The content is fitting for a POW film, and also one based around the Nazis and their beliefs.

Language: a**hole, 3 uses of f**k, and a scattering of racial slurs targeting Jews, and in one occasion, black people

Violence: A man slices his wrists in a suicide attempt after learning his wife and children have been murdered in Auschwitz, he survives but later kills himself in the same method. Sally is urinated on by a prison guard. A prisoner is seen being beaten to death, with violent hits to the head. A prisoner is shot in the head onscreen, and another is seen after being shot in the head. There are many other threats of violence against prisoners, as well as the use of a knife in a fight.

Sex/Nudity: There is one brief non-nude scene of sexuality, and some rear female nudity shortly afterward. There is a brief glimpse of male genitalia in a non-sexual manner.

No one needs to be told that the Nazi regime was evil and abused human rights. But what is easy to pass over is that the main protagonist in “The Counterfeiters” is a criminal, and a persistent hardened criminal, too. At the end of the day, we want the Nazis to lose, no matter who beats them. This is what Sally and his crew go about doing. Eventually. Sally starts out with an “adapt or die” attitude, willing to do anything in order to further benefit himself in a bad situation. Although this survivor mentality is to be admired, it is not something encouraged in a Fascist regime.

As believers, it’s important for us to be careful about sympathizing with people who lack morals, and who too easily commit violence or crimes in their own defense. The Bible encourages us to be above reproach and not to sell ourselves out to save our own skins. We are not of this world, and our bodies are only worth so much compared to our souls.

Overall, I’m an advocate of this film. It’s in German, with a mixture of Russian. It’s well shot, and the story is based on historical fact. Karl Markovics is best known from “Unknown” starring Liam Neeson. His performance is a great one, playing the low-key survivor in the camps, and the mysterious playboy outside of them. It’s fully worth the watch, if you can keep track with the subtitles. It’s a story of life.

Violence: Extreme / Profanity: Heavy / Sex/Nudity: Moderate to heavy

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

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Movie Critics
…a brisk, tough new movie… swift and suspenseful thriller…
A.O. Scott, The New York Times
…grim… a fascinating, low-key movie about moral choices and life-and-death decisions made in terrible conditions…
Philip French, The Guardian