The brilliance of the film lies in Marcovic’s performance, which Ruzowitzky wisely keeps subdued, making Sally’s trajectory unpredictable—and realistic.  It’s also the fact that Marcovic, by his looks and his character, is not a classic hero.  In fact, watching the film, you’re not sure if he’s a hero at all.  It’s like the green triangle that covers the yellow star on his prison garb.  The latter tells us we should pity him; the former, that he’s a criminal anyway.  What should we feel? Where do our sympathies lie?

More significantly, what would we do in his situation?  By sabotaging the operation, Burger and Sally could contribute to the Nazi downfall—but sacrifice the lives of fellow prisoners, as well as themselves.  By producing the required currency, however, they could save themselves—but extend the war, causing others to die. 

There are no clear answers, nor should there be.  And that’s why The Counterfeiters is so good.  It lets us think for ourselves.

DVD EXTRAS:

  • Commentary with director Stephan Ruzowitzky
  • The Making of The Counterfeiters
  • Interviews
  • Adolf Burger’s Artifacts
  • Q&A with director
  • Deleted scenes
  • Original theatrical trailer

CAUTIONS:

  • Drugs/Alcohol:  Numerous scenes with drinking and cigarette smoking.
  • Language/Profanity:  Numerous profanities and obscenities.
  • Sex/Nudity:  Extended shots of rear female nudity in a scene where an unmarried couple becomes intimate; a man urinates on another man (no nudity).
  • Violence:  Strong wartime violence, including characters who are shot at point blank range (on camera) and brutal beatings.  Most of the film takes place in a concentration camp with squalid conditions and harsh treatment of prisoners.