Plot: What’s it about?
Salomon Sorowitsch (Karl Markovics) is a counterfeiter and loan shark, able to produce flawless replications of almost any currency in the world. He can also manufacture effective passports, identification cards, and official documents, whatever you could want, for a price, of course. Salomon isn’t interested in religion, politics, or social concerns, he just wants to make money and keep his lavish lifestyle intact. As he works to reproduce a proper counterfeit American dollar, Salomon finds himself in jail and while popular there, he is soon shipped off to a concentration camp. At the camp, he is put to work creating counterfeit cash to help fund the German forces in the conflict. As Salomon works to deliver what the Germans want, an American dollar, he enjoys perks and survival, but what toll has this taken on his mind and soul?
The winner of 2007’s Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards, The Counterfeiters is a dark, complex exploration of the human mind. If this were fiction, it would still be an intense experience, but as based on real life events, the experience is even more gripping. This is an examination of one small element within a much larger picture, as in the internal struggle of one man in the midst of a vicious, unforgivable turn of events. To watch as this man works in ways to help himself remain alive, even as it causes so much suffering and anguish, is unforgettable. All the more potent thanks to some excellent performances, with special mention to Karl Marcovics. He is able to convey such inner torment and evolve within this character, without such a strong lead, The Counterfeiters would have suffered a great deal. I simply cannot recommend this movie enough and while it isn’t pleasant to watch, The Counterfeiters does deserve to be seen.
Video: How does it look?
The Counterfeiters is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. This transfer doesn’t look great, but it looks accurate and that is what counts. There is even a disclaimer on the case, explaining the visual design and I am sure without it, complaints would be numerous. The visuals look soft and loaded with grain, as the movie was shot on 16mm and in truth, the design choices suit the material quite well. The image comes off as dank and dark, devoid of visual life, which is just how this kind of material should look, if you ask me. So while soft and rough, this is just how the movie was supposed to look.
Audio: How does it sound?
This Dolby TrueHD 5.1 option preserves the original German soundtrack and sounds fine, but this kind of material doesn’t offer much audio potential. The surround use won’t knock your socks off, but the audio is handled in proper fashion, so the elements come across just as intended. The music sounds very good, while sound effects are passable and dialogue is clear, not much else we could ask in this case. This disc also includes a French language track, as well as subtitles in English, French, and Spanish.
Supplements: What are the extras?
The audio commentary track with director Stefan Ruzowitzky is technical in nature, so you’ll hear a lot about the nuts & bolts of the production. He details the casting process, trials & tribulations of the shoot, and offers his own perspective on the events as depicted within the picture. This disc also includes a series of cast & crew interviews, a Q&A session with the director, the author’s presentation of some genuine artifacts, some deleted scenes, and the film’s theatrical trailer.