Film / Jakob the Liar

"Hitler goes to a fortune-teller and asks, 'When will I die?' And the fortune-teller replies, 'On a Jewish holiday.' Hitler then asks, 'How do you know that?' And she replies, 'Any day you die will be a Jewish holiday.'"
Jakob Heym

Jakob the Liar tells the tale of Jakob Heym, a Jewish shopkeeper in the ghettos during World War II. When he's caught out late one night, Jakob is sent to the Kommandant for being smart with the guard. While there, he hears news of advancing Russian troops. On the way back he finds a girl who managed to escape from a transport train, and begins to look after her. From there he finds himself risking life, limb, and more than a few lies as he tries to keep the spirits of his friends up, and give them the courage to face the next day in hope that the Russians will free them from Nazi occupation.

The story first appeared as a 1969 novel by Jurek Becker, who originally intended it as a screenplay; appropriately, it's been filmed twice. The first movie was an East German-Czechoslovakian film from 1975. The second adaptation was a 1999 film starring Robin Williams, which became the best known version of the story.


  • Ambiguous Ending: Depending on your interpretation, The Russians arrive to save the Jews at the end, but it could very well just be another lie from Jakob, who is also the narrator.