Die Fälscher (2007)
Die Fälscher is another entry in the wave of Nazi-era films to surface in Germany over the last five years. And like many of the others, this film by Stefan Ruzowitzky treats even the simplest relation and the most remote character with absolute respect and not one hint of bias. This is a film interested in human destinies and mental strength, and only scarcely politics. In this respect, Die Fälscher has more in common with Sophie Scholl - Die Letzten Tage than with for instance Der Untergang, but filmatically, Die Fälscher is even more restricted than Sophie Scholl - taking form more as a stage play with very few location shifts and very intimate character relations.
This leaves a lot of responsibility to the actors and the subtlety of the storytelling. The former is impressive, with the incredibly talented Devid Stiesow (Napola) revelling as Sturmbannführer Herzog. The latter is the film's little stroke of genius. Ruzowitzky's understated account of the horrors of war makes a lasting impression. Like our protagonists, we're never subjected to these horrors, but we feel them lurking just around the corner. They know that one single misstep will crush them, still they are determined to find ways to intercept, because unlike their fellow camp prisoners, these guys have been well-fed enough to keep their morale and resistance up.
The ideologies and politics are heavily downplayed, or rather ignored in Die Fälscher. Like Herzog says: He once was a communist, and he might as well still have been - his objective is to keep himself afloat. Through Ruzowitzky's insightful direction, we understand that the German officers and soldiers and the Jewish camp prisoners in many ways were in the same situation: Forced to comply with a despicable ideology and to renounce their personal integrity. The difference, of course, was that the Jews suffered during the war, whereas the German officers suffered when it was over.