Die Fälscher

Die Fälscher (2007). Dir. Stefan Ruzowitzky

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Atze (Veit Stübner): “Warum ist Gott nicht in Auschwitz? Der kam nicht durch die Selektion!

Die Fälscher is one of my favorite movies about the Holocaust. It’s an Austrian film where the Nazi pigs bark in German (not English) and the victims speak, cry and pray in German, Russian, and Hebrew (not English). I can’t stand the Holocaust movies where the Nazis speak English with a German accent, no matter how good the movie is. That goes for Schindler’s List and many others (the only exception is probably The Pianist, an excellent film that if it were in Polish and German would be a real masterpiece).

In Die Fälscher one can really breath the brutality of the small Nazi concentration camps (there are no extermination camps shown here). Viktor Frankl wrote that in the ordinary small concentration camps most of the extermination took place. In Die Fälscher we see a Nazi pig kicking to death a prisoner in Buchenwald and we see how little life was worth in Sachsenhausen (you could be shot any time and for no reason). The elegant and cultivated German Nazis could kill and torture as much as they felt like.

The film focuses on the biggest con operation of the entire history: Operation Bernhard. Operation Bernhard managed to counterfeit more than 134 million British pounds and some American dollars. Created in 1942 by the Nazi Germans and developed in Sachsenhausen’s Blocks 18 and 19 by 142 Jewish prisoners who were forced to forge millions, Operation Bernhard could have given a dramatic turn to the war. The Nazis counterfeited not only British pounds and American dollars, but also many passports, identity cards, birth and marriage certificates, other official documents, and stamps. The Nazis were not only cruel and monstrous (we know that they loved to gas men, women, and children, and that they enjoyed massacring people and burning babies alive), but they were also great thieves (they stole many Aryan-looking Polish children –after having killed their parents, of course–) and they were also the greatest common criminals: they organized the biggest con operation of all times (but, luckily, too late). The Nazi Germans possessed all of the disgusting and lowest attributes that a human can have: racism, violence, cruelty, and dishonesty. And all that beautiful pack came from one of the most cultivated countries of the entire world. The Germans, with their amazing philosophy, their amazing poetry, their amazing music and their amazing art produced the most horrific monstrosity of human history: the Holocaust.

Die Fälscher is loosely based on the memoirs of Adolf Burger, originally written in Czech (Komando padělatelů) and first published in 1983. The translation into English was published only 26 years later (in 2009) under the title The Devil’s Workshop: A Memoir of the Nazi Counterfeiting Operation (I didn’t read the book, but I just ordered it). Burger was a Jewish Slovak typographer and Holocaust survivor born in 1917. He was deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau together with his wife when he was 25 years old, in 1942. At that time he was making fake baptism certificates to save Jews. In Auschwitz-Birkenau he was tattooed with the number 64401. His wife perished in Auschwitz that year. He survived 18 months in Auschwitz-Birkenau and was then transferred to Sachsenhausen (April 1944) to work in Operation Bernhard. In 1945 he was transferred to the Ebensee concentration camp (a camp within the Mauthausen network) until its liberation by the US Army on May 6, 1945 (that isn’t shown in the movie). Burger died 10 months ago in Prague, age 99 (yes, 99!), in December 2016. 

The casting of the film is superb. Karl Markovics (who portrays Sorowitsch, a character based on the real Salomon Smolianoff, an Ukrainian Jewish professional counterfeiter who died in Brazil at age 76) gives an outstanding performance. I really love this actor. He’s amazing. August Diehl (the famous SS whom Fassbender blew his balls off in Inglourious Basterds) plays the real Burger. He appears super thin and his performance is stunning. Sebastian Urzendowsky plays Kolya, a young Russian painter also involved in Operation Bernhard. His performance is breathtaking (Urzendowsky gave an impressive performance too in the German film Berlin’36). Devid Striesow plays the Nazi Herzog, to my taste a too nice and soft character. Herzog is based on the real Bernhard Krüger, a murderous SS who led Operation Bernhard (the operation was named after him). As the vast majority of German and Austrian murderers, Krüger got off scot-free (after a brief period of detention) and died peacefully in Germany at age 84. Charlie Chaplin’s granddaughter (Dolores Chaplin) makes a small appearance in the film.

The tango music of the film (written by Marius Ruhland) is truly amazing. The details of the film are really painful and really well made: the apple, the bloody hands, the second hand clothing, the touching of the clean bed sheets, the reaction of Kolya at the beginning of the shower, the huge humiliation in the toilet, the walking-corps after the liberation of Sachsenhausen…

I am currently working on my Phd in Philosophy. My thesis is about Sartre and Viktor Frankl and their different existential approaches to religion, and about the death of God after Auschwitz. In Die Fälscher I have found one of the best explanations to the absence of God while millions of innocent men, women, and children were being massacred. It is a cruel joke that one of the inmates tells laughing to the other inmates. He says: “Why isn’t God in Auschwitz? Because he did not pass the selection” [Warum ist Gott nicht in Auschwitz? Der kam nicht durch die Selektion!“].

Around 134 million counterfeit British pounds were produced at Sachsenhausen. In 1945 Operation Bernhard moved to Mauthausen. In 1959 some of the boxes with counterfeit British pounds were discovered at the bottom of Lake Toplitz (in the Austrian Alps), and in 2000 the same company who discovered the Titanic pull out from the lake many boxes with counterfeit British pounds and some counterfeit American dollars.

Die Fälscher won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language (Austria). After it won the Oscar, Burger said that he felt happy because now more people would see the movie and will know that the Nazis were not just murderers but also common criminals.

The worst: some small factual errors.

The best: everything else.

 

Some articles and news about Operation Bernhard:

Shifting from Wartime to Peacetime Intelligence Operations (The CIA Library)

Counterf-Hitler: Examples from the £134million in dodgy bank notes Adolf hoped would ruin the British economy expected to fetch £2,000 at auction

Nazi fake banknote ‘part of plan to ruin British economy’

Los Angeles Times: Adolf Burger, World War II prisoner forced by Nazis to forge millions in fake money, dies at 99

DALIT-ANTONIA-JOKER-2016 Antonia Tejeda Barros, Madrid, October 11, 2017

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Inglourious Basterds

Inglourious Basterds (2009). Dir. Quentin Tarantino

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Film Title: INGLOURIOUS BASTERDSinglourious-basterds-10inglourious-basterds-43

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Michael Fassbender (Ltd Archie Hicox) in INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS.

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Film Title: Inglourious Basterds

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Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt): “Nazi ain’t got no humanity. They’re the foot soldiers of a Jew hunting, mass murdering maniac, and they need to be destroyed. That’s why any and every son of a bitch we find wearing a Nazi uniform, they’re gonna die”

¡Qué placer ver a los nazis morir! Tarantino hace con su arte lo que la historia no pudo hacer: matar a los malditos nazis.

Inglourious Basterds es una obra maestra. La película es muy violenta (con esa violencia tan característica y bestia de Tarantino que acaba siendo graciosa), pero un poquito de justicia no le hace daño a nadie, ¿verdad? ¡Brindemos por cada alemán y austríaco nazi muerto!

El principio de la película es espectacular. El diálogo entre Christoph Waltz y el campesino francés, interpretado a la perfección por Denis Ménochet, es algo fuera de serie. El diálogo  dura 12 minutos (empieza a los 6’50” y acaba a los 18’50”). Tarantino trabajó en el guión de Inglorious Basterds durante 10 años. La música de la película es buenísima e incluye obras de Ennio Morricone y una canción de David Bowie.

El casting, como en todas las películas de Tarantino, brilla por su genialidad. Waltz nos sorprende hablando a la perfección 4 idiomas, Brad Pitt brilla en su papel de Aldo, Fassbender aparece irresistible en su papel de crítico de cine británico y de espía, con su uniforme de SS. Mélanie Laurent encarna bastante bien a Shosanna, Daniel Brühl aparece macabro y simpático, Diane Kruger es la diva perfecta (su alemán es exquisito) y August Diehl aparece impecable en su rol de cerdo de la Gestapo. Uno de mis basterds preferidos es Hugo Stiglitz, interpretado por Til Schweiger (un actor alemán que siempre se había negado a ponerse un uniforme nazi en una película, pero que aceptó en Inglorious Basterds porque allí se le dio el privilegio de matar a nazis).

Inglorious Basterds obtuvo 8 nominaciones al Oscar (Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Achievement in Directing, Best Writing, Original Screenplay, Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role, Best Achievement in Cinematography, Best Achievement in Film Editing, Best Achievement in Sound Mixing, y Best Achievement in Sound Editing), y ganó un Oscar (Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role: Christoph Waltz).

Inglourious Basterds es la última película de Tarantino editada por Sally Menke, quien editó todas las películas de Tarantino desde Reservoir Dogs (1992) (murió en el 2010).

Así como Saul fia es la mejor película que he visto sobre el Holocausto (impresionantemente real, deprimente y espantosa), Inglourious Basterds es el gran antídoto contra la tristeza, el dolor y la rabia que se sienten al leer sobre el Holocausto y al ver películas sobre la 2ª Guerra Mundial. Un placer para la vista, el oído, la mente y el corazón. Tarantino hace un poco de justicia a la horrenda historia de la humanidad. Una película entretenida, sorprendente, brutal y divertida.

¡Imprescindible verla (como todo el arte del cine) en VO!

Algunas curiosidades: Samuel L. Jackson es el narrador, Tarantino aparece dos veces como cameo (es el primer “scalped Nazi” y un soldado norteamericano en ‘Pride of Nation’), y el comandante norteamericano que habla con Waltz por teléfono hacia el final de la película es Harvey Keitel. Todas estas interpretaciones no aparecen en los créditos.

En Alemania, la esvástica fue eliminada o camuflada en todos los pósters de Inglourious Basterds, puesto que los símbolos nazis están prohibidos por ley en Alemania, salvo en documentos históricos.

Lo mejor: el diálogo entre Waltz y Méchonet, los nombres que Brad Pitt da a los alemanes nazis, Hitler pidiendo un chicle, la sonrisa irresistible de Fassbender, la música, el script, el estilo 100 % Tarantino, y los nazis en llamas.

Lo peor: la pésima actriz francesa de la taverna, algunos “cuts” y algunos anacronismos.

Inglourious Basterds / Trailer

cropped-antonia-dalit-2.jpg Antonia Tejeda Barros, 8 de diciembre de 2016

Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt): “Nazi ain’t got no humanity. They’re the foot soldiers of a Jew hunting, mass murdering maniac, and they need to be destroyed. That’s why any and every son of a bitch we find wearing a Nazi uniform, they’re gonna die”.

Such a pleasure watching Nazis being killed! Tarantino uses his art for doing what history couldn’t do: to kill the fucking Nazis.

Inglourious Basterds is a masterpiece. The film is bloody violent (violence which is so characteristic from Tarantino it ends out being funny), but a bit of justice does not hurt, does it? Let’s cheer for every fucking German & Austrian Nazi shot and dead!

The beginning of the movie is spectacular. The dialog between Christoph Waltz and the French farmer, brilliantly performed by Denis Ménochet, is awesome. The dialog lasts for 12 minutes (it starts at 6’50” and ends at 18’50”). Tarantino worked on the script of Inglorious Basterds for 10 years. The music of the film is amazing and includes works by Ennio Morricone and a song by David Bowie.

The casting, like in all Tarantino movies, is breathtaking. Waltz surprises us speaking 4 languages, Brad Pitt glows in his role of Aldo, Fassbender appears irresistible in his role as a British spy cinema critic disguised as an SS officer. Mélanie Laurent plays well enough the role of Shosanna, Daniel Brühl appears both nice and macabre, Diane Kruger is the perfect diva (her German is exquisite), and August Diehl appears impeccable in his role of a Gestapo pig. One of my favourite basterd is Hugo Stiglitz, performed by Til Schweiger (a German actor who always refused to wear a Nazi uniform in a movie, but he accepted it in Inglorious Basterds because there he was given the privilege of killing Nazis).

Inglourious Basterds is the last Tarantino movie edited by Sally Menke, who was the editor of all Tarantino’s movies from Reservoir Dogs (1992) (she died in 2010).

Inglourious Basterds got 8 Academy Award Nominations (Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Achievement in Directing, Best Writing, Original Screenplay, Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role, Best Achievement in Cinematography, Best Achievement in Film Editing, Best Achievement in Sound Mixing, and Best Achievement in Sound Editing), and won one Oscar (Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role: Christoph Waltz).

Just as Saul fia is the best movie about the Holocaust that I’ve ever seen (it is terribly real, breathtaking and depressing), Inglourious Basterds is the great antidote to all the sadness, pain and anger that one feels when reading about the Holocaust and watching WWII movies. A pleasure for the eye, the ear, the mind and the heart. Tarantino makes justice to the horrible history of humankind. A cool, funny, brutal and surprising film.

Fun facts: Samuel L. Jackson is the narrator, Tarantino appears twice as a cameo (he is the first scalped Nazi and an American soldier in ‘Pride of Nation’), and the OSS American commander who talks to Waltz on the phone at the end of the movie is Harvey Keitel. These performances are uncredited.

In Germany all the swastikas had to be removed or hidden from all movie posters, since Nazi symbols are banned by law in Germany (except for historical documents).

The best: the dialog between Waltz and Méchonet, the names that Brad Pitt gives the German Nazis, Hitler asking for a chewing gum, Fassbender’s irresistible smile, the music, the script, Tarantino’s style, and the dirty Nazis burning in flames.

The worst: the bad French actress at the tavern, some cuts, and some anachronisms.

Inglourious Basterds Trailer

cropped-antonia-dalit-2.jpg Antonia Tejeda Barros, December 8, 2016

The Pursuit of Happyness

The Pursuit of Happyness (2006). Dir. Gabriele Muccino

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Chris (Will Smith): Don’t ever let somebody tell you you can’t do something. Not even me. All right?

Christopher (Jaden Smith): All right.

Chris: You got a dream, you gotta protect it. People can’t do somethin’ themselves, they wanna tell you you can’t do it. If you want somethin’, go get it. Period.

Tengo que confesar que estoy ridículamente embobada con Will Smith, un actor y rapper deliciosamente sexy, simpático, divertido y cool. He comprado recientemente muchas de sus películas y CDs. Sólo hace poco he empezado a ver The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air con mis hijos, y nos encanta (sí, por suerte no lo vi en los 90 en la TV, porque hubiera visto a Will doblado al español, qué horror, con esas voces tan postizas que siguen usando aquí en España –que son las mismas de los anuncios de desodorantes y compresas). Así que compré esta película sólo porque la protagonizaba Will. Y la película me ha impactado profundamente.

The Pursuit of Happyness (sí, con “Y”: esto es por un graffiti mal escrito que hay pintado en la pared de la deprimente guardería de Christopher) es una de las mejores películas que he visto: profunda, emotiva, sorprendente, triste y divertida. The Pursuit of Happyness llega profundamente al corazón y nos hace valorar lo que tenemos, incluidos nuestros propios sueños. No es una película deprimente. Es una película que habla de esperanza, amor, supervivencia, paternidad y sueños.

The Pursuit of Happyness está basada en una historia real: la historia de Chris Gardner y su lucha por vivir decentemente sin tener que separarse de su hijo. El verdadero Chris Gardner estuvo presente en todo el rodaje de la película.

Will Smith fue nominado al Oscar por su brillante interpretación. Definitivamente, esta es una de las mejores interpretaciones de la carrera de Will (posiblemente la mejor), junto a sus impresionantes interpretaciones de Muhammad Ali en Ali (2001) y del Dr. Bennet Omalu en Concussion (2015).

Chris Gardner pensó en un principio que Will no podía encarnarle. Pero su hija Jacintha le dijo: “If Smith can play Muhammad Ali, he can play you!“.

La interpretación de Jaden Smith es también impresionante. Jaden no era la primera elección, ni mucho menos. El director Gabriele Muccino escuchó alrededor de 250 niños, pero confesó que todos eran “monos” y correctos (cute and fine). El problema era que Muccino no estaba buscando un niño “mono”, sino un niño que pudiera ser real. Después de una semana, Muccino le pidió a Will si su hijo Jaden podía leer con él y, cuando lo hizo, quedó impresionado. El amor entre padre e hijo en la vida real puede definitivamente respirarse en la película. Jaden –quien interpreta a un niño de 5 años– tenía 8 cuando rodaron la película. El verdadero Christopher (el hijo de Chris Gardner), sin embargo, era sólo un bebé cuando Chris vivió los acontecimientos que ocurren en la película.

Lo mejor: la brillante interpretación de Will, la triste escena del lavabo, las carreras de Will, la fresca interpretación de Jaden, y la escena de la oficina hacia el final de la película.

Lo peor: nada.

The Pursuit of Happyness / Trailer

cropped-antonia-dalit-2.jpg Antonia Tejeda Barros, Madrid, 11 de septiembre de 2016

Chris (Will Smith): Don’t ever let somebody tell you you can’t do something. Not even me. All right?

Christopher (Jaden Smith): All right.

Chris: You got a dream, you gotta protect it. People can’t do somethin’ themselves, they wanna tell you you can’t do it. If you want somethin’, go get it. Period.

I have to confess that I have a big crush on Will Smith, an actor and rapper who I find super sexy, nice, funny, and cool. I’ve recently bought many of his movies and albums. I am only now discovering, together with my kids, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (Yes, I didn’t watch it in the 90s!). So, I bought this movie just because Will is in it. And I was blown away by the movie.

The Pursuit of Happyness (yes, with a “Y”: that’s because of a misspelled graffiti on the wall of Christopher’s depressing  day-care) is one of the best movies I have ever seen. The film  is touching, surprising, sad and funny. The Pursuit of Happyness will break your heart and will make you value what you have. But this is not a depressing movie. It is a movie about hope, love, survival, fatherhood, and about never giving up your dreams.

The Pursuit of Happyness is based on a true story: the story of Chris Gardner and his struggle for a decent life while keeping his son next to him at all times. The real Chris Gardner was present throughout the shooting and discussed several things with Will and director Gabriele Muccino.

Will Smith was nominated for an Oscar for his breathtaking performance of Chris Gardner. That’s definitely one of the best performances of Will’s career (if not the best), together with his stunning portrayals of Muhammad Ali in Ali (2001) and Dr. Bennet Omalu in Concussion (2015).

Chris Gardner first thought that Will was miscast to play him, but his daughter Jacintha told him: “If Smith can play Muhammad Ali, he can play you!”.

Jaden Smith’s performance is also amazing. He wasn’t cast in the film right away. Director Gabriele Muccino saw some 250 kids and he said that they were all cute and fine. The problem was that Muccino wasn’t looking for a cute and fine little boy, but for a little boy who could be real. After a week, Muccino asked Will if his son Jaden could read for him, and, when he did, Muccino was amazed. The love that father and son have for each other in real life can be definitely felt in the movie. Jaden, who portrays a 5 year old Christopher, was 8 years old when the movie was shot and released. The real Christopher (Chris Gardner’s son), however, was just a baby at the time of the real events.

The best: Will’s brilliant performance, the toilet scene, Will’s running, Jaden’s fresh performance, and the board room scene towards the end of the movie.

The worst: nothing.

The Pursuit of Happyness Trailer

cropped-antonia-dalit-2.jpg Antonia Tejeda Barros, Madrid, September 11, 2016

2 Days in Paris

2 Days in Paris (2007). Dir. Julie Delpy

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“It’s so ugly when you speak French!” (Marion / Julie Delpy)

2 Days in Paris es una comedia divertida e ingeniosa escrita, dirigida, editada y protagonizada por la talentosa Julie Delpy. Tiene un sabor a Woody Allen y al cine europeo.

2 Days in Paris fue nominada al premio César al mejor guión (Meilleur scénario original). El guión, en efecto, es realmente brillante.

Los padres de Julie interpretan a los padres de Marion. El padre es súper divertido.

Lo mejor: la incomunicación entre las diferentes culturas, Albert Delpy y su pasión por rayar los coches mal aparcados (¡quién pudiera hacer eso!), los ridículos republicanos norteamericanos, la paranoia de Jack por el complejo de puta de Marion, el hada, la música, y la escena donde Marion le grita al taxista racista y critica la Francia xenófoba .

Lo peor: que la película sea tan corta. Es tan entretenida que ojalá hubiera durado una hora más.

2 Days in Paris / Trailer

Antonia Tejeda Barros, Madrid, 27 de junio de 2016

“It’s so ugly when you speak French!” (Marion / Julie Delpy)

2 Days in Paris is a funny and surprising film written, directed, edited, and starred by the talented Julie Delpy. It has a taste of Woody Allen and a taste of European films.

The film was nominated for a César award for Best Original Screenplay (Meilleur scénario original). The script is brilliant indeed.

Julie’s real parents play Marion’s parents. The father is hillarious.

The best: the lack of communication between different cultures, Albert Delpy’s character and his passion for destroying cars that are bad parked (it would be so great to be able to do that!), the American Republican losers, Jack’s paranoia for Marion’s man-eater complex, the fairy, the music, and the scene where Marion shouts at the racist taxi driver and criticizes France.

The worst: that the film is so short. I wish it would have lasted an hour longer.

2 Days in Paris Trailer

cropped-antonia-dalit-2.jpg Antonia Tejeda Barros, Madrid, June 27, 2016

Va, vis et deviens

Va, vis et deviens (2005). Dir. Radu Mihaileanu

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Va, vis et deviens es una de las películas que más me ha llegado al corazón. Radu Mihaileanu nos muestra, una vez más, su gran sensibilidad y su genialidad para relatar historias emotivas y profundas y denunciar al mismo tiempo las injusticias, el racismo, el hambre y la pobreza. La historia de Schlomo nos hace meditar y reflexionar sobre la intolerancia, el racismo, la maternidad, el amor incondicional y la religión. Para aquellos que se sientan extranjeros en todos lados esta es una película esencial. La historia de Schlomo fue escrita por Radu Mihaileanu, pero está basada en miles de historias personales de etíopes judíos que emigraron a Israel en 1984, en la llamada “Operación Moisés”.

Va, vis et deviens ganó varios premios (Berlinale: 3 premios; Copenhagen International Film, y el premio César al mejor guión –Meilleur scénario original–). Fue la primera película que habló sobre los judíos etíopes. La película está en amárico, hebreo y francés. Imprescindible verla en V.O.

Lo mejor: la sensibilidad de Radu Mihaileanu, los 3 Schlomos (Moshe Agazai, Moshe Abebe y Sirak M. Sabahat), la música (Armand Amar) y el Qès Amhra (Yitzhak Edagr).

Lo peor: algunos pequeños momentos melodramáticos.

Va, vis et deviens / Trailer

Antonia Tejeda Barros, Madrid, 13 de junio de 2016

Va, vis et deviens is a film that touched me deeply. Radu Mihaileanu shows us, once again, his great sensibility and his genius for telling emotional and profound stories while denouncing injustices, racism, hunger and poverty. Schlomo’s story makes us think about intolerance, racism, motherhood, unconditional love and religion. This is an essential movie for all of those who feel strangers no matter where they are. Schlomo’s story was written by Radu Mihaileanu, but it is based on thousands of personal stories of Ethiopian Jews who emigrated to Israel in 1984 under the so-called “Moses Operation”.

Va, vis et deviens won several awards (Berlinale: 3 awards; Copenhagen International Film, and the César award for Best Original Screenplay –Meilleur scénario original–). It was the first film dealing with the immigration of the Ethiopian Jews to Israel. The movie is in Amharic, Hebrew and French.

The best: Radu Mihaileanu’s sensibility, the 3 Schlomos (Moshe Agazai, Moshe Abebe and Sirak M. Sabahat), the music (Armand Amar), and the Qes Amhra (Yitzhak Edagr).

The worst: some small overdramatic moments.

Va, vis et deviens / Trailer

cropped-antonia-dalit-2.jpg Antonia Tejeda Barros, Madrid, June 13, 2016