SRP $38.95 1.85:1 Dolby TrueHD 5.1 SONY
 

 

SRP $28.95 1.85:1(16:9) DOLBY DIGITAL 5.1

SONY has released the most recent OSCAR winner for BEST FOREIGN FILM, "THE COUNTERFEITERS," on both dvd and blu-ray.  It's important to recognize that the time of day, mood of the viewer, and other things can really affect one's original perspective on a film. When first giving this one a viewing, after a long day, the film just didn't move quickly enough for this reviewer to give it a fair chance. However, a week later, much less tired, another "from the beginning" viewing took place, and,..."THE COUNTERFEITERS" is a great film. At times, evoking moments up there with "SCHINDLER'S LIST," but an altogether great film, standing on its own.

Based on a true story, "THE COUNTERFEITERS" tells the tale with an arguably unnecessary bookend device, about a criminal forger, imprisoned by the NAZIS and marked for certain death due to being Jewish, but the captors give him a meager hope for survival if he will lead other jewish prisoners with various skills, in their plot to counterfeit foreign currency, "British and US" with the aim to flood the allies with fake bills, crippling their economy and building up the collapsing German economic system at the same time.  Thanks to the tight script, there are few sub-plots, recognizing the major one at hand, is gripping by itself. The characters are richly defined, sometimes through nuance, and at other times, via great to-the-point dialogue.

SONY has provided the correct 1.85:1 aspect ratio for this release with 16:9 enhancement for dvd and 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encoding for the blu-ray.  Being shot in 16mm and employing various contrasts, by intention, to better paint the atmosphere and contrast of concentration camps with that of the world of the exclusive rich gamblers, there are few scenes that "jump" off the screen. However, both the dvd and blu-ray provide wonderful presentations. Colors are accurately representative of the director's intent, and the colors are sometimes rich enough to allow the film the kind of contrasting beauty shown in "SOPHIE'S CHOICE."  The edge of richness clearly goes to the blu-ray over the dvd, wherein resolution and detail is slightly better defined. Grain intentionally appears throughout both presentations, and is never intrusive, given the gritty subject matter. Contrast fares better on blu-ray with deeper blacks and grays.

SONY has provided a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix for blu-ray and Dolby Digital 5.1 mix for dvd.  There is no discernible difference between the two mixes, save for a few instances on the lossless mix, wherein some minor ambient effects are more noticeable. This isn't an aggressive mix, with most separation focused on front speakers. Dialogue is always intelligible, and the film's score is well complimented through all speakers on both mixes. 

The same extras appear on both formats, including a fine commentary(in English), deleted scenes(standard def) and various interviews and a brief Q&A