Sep 30 2011
Lenin famously once said “a lie told often enough becomes the truth”. And to prove he was right, the phrase was repeated years later by Michael Jackson (“Be careful what you do, because a lie becomes the truth, yeah hey hey… Billy Jean is not my lover!…”). So think long and hard before deciding what to believe, because there’s every chance it could all be a load of bull.
In 1965, three Mossad agents are sent on an undercover mission into Soviet-controlled East Berlin to kidnap Dieter Vogel – otherwise known as the Surgeon of Birkenau – and bring him to Israel to be tried as a Nazi war criminal. Vogel, played by the sinister Jesper Christensen, stands accused of performing twisted experiments on thousands of Jews who passed through the Nazi concentration camps during WWII. When the operation goes awry, the three agents are forced to hold the doctor hostage in their dank apartment while they try and figure out a new plan to smuggle him through Checkpoint Charlie and into the west.
For the next thirty years the trio are celebrated as national heroes, having apparently completed their mission. However, while their country glorifies their efforts in bringing justice to the world, the three former agents remain slightly uneasy about taking the plaudits, knowing that the real version of events might not have been exactly as it appears in the history books. The truth about what happened on that mission has remained a secret for decades, and a convenient lie spun in order to save face and national pride, as well as bringing a sense of closure to those who wanted to see the evil surgeon pay for his atrocities. As revelations begin to emerge, the agents must decide if revealing the truth could ultimately do more harm to the Israeli people than allowing them to continue believing a comforting lie.
A stellar international cast including Helen Mirren, Tom Wilkinson, Jessica Chastain and Sam Worthington do their best Israeli accents (we’ll have to assume they all come from different parts of Israel, because none of them sound alike!).
Or maybe I’m lying about the whole thing, and that’s not what the film is about at all.