The winner of last year's Oscar for Best Foreign-Language Film, Stefan Ruzowitzky's drama is about an actual Nazi concentration camp where skilled Jewish prisoners were pressed into forging counterfeit British and American currency. The film poses the question, "What would you do - survive at all costs, or resist abetting your enemies?" And it does so with strong storytelling skills, commendable restraint, and fine portrayals of clearly delineated characters. Kurt Markovics's lead performance as a career counterfeiter and professional survivor is a tour de force.
The DVD transfer is better at displaying shadows than it is at defining crisp detail, but so is the picture of the original film itself. The dialogue (in German) and effects are fine; in the Dolby Digital 5.1 mix, the surround channels are put to judicious use for music and a few emotional moments.
Ruzowitzky's commentary offers a decent amount of information in clearly understandable English between the frequent "uhs." There are also some negligible deleted scenes. By far the best of the interview sequences are those with the 90-year-old survivor Adolf Burger, who wrote the book from which the film was adapted. He fills in omitted details, shows us actual examples of his work, and gleefully explains the only way you could tell his fake British pounds from real ones.
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