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Jakob the liar

Threat advisory: High - High risk of entertaining activities

Movie propaganda

When all hope was lost, he invented it.

In Nazi-occupied Poland during World War II, poor Jewish café owner Jakob Heym (Robin Williams) accidentally overhears a forbidden radio news bulletin signalling Soviet military successes against German forces. To combat the overwhelming depression and suicide that pervades the ghetto, Jakob invents fictitious news bulletins about allied advances against the Nazis. These lies keep hope and humour alive among the ghetto inhabitants - spirits are lifted, hearts are refreshed and optimism is reborn. The Germans learn of the mythical radio, however, and begin a search for the resistance hero who dares operate it...

Theatrical propaganda posters

Jakob the liar image

Target demographic movie keyword propaganda

  • Film comedy drama World War II Nazi Jew ghetto

Persons of interest

  • Robin Williams .... Jakob Heym/Narrator
  • Hannah Taylor-Gordon .... Lina Kronstein
  • Éva Igó .... Lina's Mother
  • István Bálint .... Lina's Father
  • Justus von Dohnanyi .... Preuss
  • Kathleen Gati .... Hooker
  • Bob Balaban .... Kowalsky
  • Alan Arkin .... Max Frankfurter
  • Michael Jeter .... Avron
  • Mark Margolis .... Fajngold
  • János Gosztonyi .... Samuel
  • Liev Schreiber .... Mischa the Prizefighter
  • Armin Mueller-Stahl .... Dr Kirschbaum aka Professor
  • Ádám Rajhona .... The Whistler
  • Antal Leisen .... Peg-Leg
  • Mathieu Kassovitz .... Herschel
  • Jurek Becker .... Author
  • Didier Decoin .... Screenwriter
  • Peter Kassovitz .... Director
  • Peter Kassovitz .... Director

Cinematic intelligence sources

Intelligence analyst

Special Agent Matti

Theatrical report

Robin's list, but at least this one has a few funny lines.

By now everyone in the Western world is fairly familiar with the hard-done-by theme that pervades Jew/Nazi films, especially if you saw the documentary The last days. What was missing from those tragic memories was the deep, dark sense of humour for which the Jewry is renown. For many, god is not some evil bastard out to rule the cosmos (oops, my prejudices are showing) but more of a tetchy grandfather with whom life is an endless series of bargains.

If you're under 35, think The nanny or Torch song trilogy.

So meanwhile, they're all living in a ghetto pretending potato soup is hot water with a little dirt thrown in for flavour. But just a little dirt; too much rich food is bad for the digestion.

It's the sense of humour that only comes to those who truly understand that existence is a cosmic joke, that happiness is as permanent as a full stomach, that death is slightly less desirable than haemorrhoids.

And within it all there's the utter inhumanity of The Final Solution. The sheer evil of sending human beings to die even though the war is lost, even though the Russians will catch the train before it gets to the camp. What sort of insane fanaticism does that mindset require?

*Shudders*

So meanwhile, there's a very funny, very touching movie called Jakob the liar just waiting for you to see it. So do.

Security censorship classification

M (Adult themes, medium level violence)

Surveillance time

120 minutes (2:00 hours)

Not for public release in Australia before date

VHS rental: 15 March 2000

Cinema surveillance images

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