Recent years have seen German film-making get to grips with its wartime (and post-war) history, producing some fascinating films and this is no exception. It is beautifully filmed in a muted colour palette and incredibly well acted by a superb ensemble cast who skillfully portray the fine details of people just trying to survive each day in an extremely harsh & volatile situation, yet struggling with their consciences and trying to maintain some integrity.
The central dilemma for this band of prison-camp inmates is whether it Is better to carry on producing the fake banknotes that will support the German war effort – the very regime that has captured them and is murdering their kinsmen – or to take a stand and risk their own lives. The debates amongst the prisoners, their delaying tactics, questions of trust (between the prisoners themselves, as well as between the prisoners and their captors) make for a suspenseful and dramatic film that never loses tension.
The end of the film feels slightly surreal – much as it must have been for the prisoners themselves. As the film closes, the on-screen briefs about what happened to the characters reminds us that this story was based in reality and is all the more moving for it.