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August 5, 2008

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DVD of the Week – The Counterfeiters (2007)

by RISHI AGRAWAL

The most difficult part about making a Holocaust film must be bringing something new to the table. Almost all films in the genre are good. The subject matter doesn’t deserve shoddy treatment. However, at their worst, Holocaust films drift into melodrama, trying too hard to say something profound. Last year’s Oscar winner for Best Foreign Language Film The Counterfeiters takes a different approach. Instead of playing with our heartstrings, it presents us with an interesting moral dilemma.

Karl Markovics turns in a stellar performance as Sally Sorowitsch, a noted counterfeiter, who is presented an alternative to the horrors of the concentration camps. If he helps the Nazis counterfeit currency from the Allied powers, he will live in relative luxury. The most remarkable thing about the film is that Sorowitsch doesn’t show any external guilt or regret over making the choice to help the Nazis. That is not to say that Sorowitsch is portrayed as an unfeeling monster, but as an exemplar of the power of the human mind to rationalize moral ambiguities.

The disk is available both on regular DVD and Blu-ray and includes a commentary track by director Stefan Ruzowitzky, a making of featurette, interviews with Markovics and Adolf Burger, a Holocaust survivor and counterfeiter, as well as deleted scenes.

Other new releases this week: The Killing of John Lennon, Miss Conception, My Brother is an Only Child, Nim’s Island, Peter Seeger: The Power of Song


2 Comments Post a comment
  1. miriam
    Aug 6 2008

    This is a remarkable and fascinating story that explores serious questions about the individual’s response and responsibility in extreme circumstances. Sally is determined to survive and who can say he’s wrong to make use of his talents and wits to that end? He protects some of the weaker members of the group and goes along with the slow-down tactics of others. He’s the complete pragmatist contrasted with another of the group whose sabotage provokes a crisis. And all of them have enjoyed months or years of privilege compared to the ‘regular’ prisoners. The movie poses a complex ethical situation and refuses to give any simple answers.

  2. Aug 8 2008

    This sounds like a fascinating movie, and I keep forgetting that I mean to see it. Thanks for the reminder…I’ll have to check it out.

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