Cate Shortland's "Lore" (2012) is a picture from Holocaust's other side. We might have seen countless movies and documentaries, read books about the Nazis who were rounded up and tried as war criminals after World War II. But, what happened to the children of the Third Reich who survived? It took a quiet a bit of time for film-makers to consider the Holocaust narrative in fictional format, and an even longer time, for considering the fate of "Hitler's children" -- or ordinary Germans during and after World War II. "Lore" adapted from novel "Dark Room" imagines what it felt like to be the inheritors of the worst that humans can do to other humans.
For Oscar purposes, the movie is classified as an Australian (made by Aussie director), but it was made entirely in Germany, and the fragments of English come from the American soldiers. If you think, you don’t have the psychological and emotional space for yet another film about childhood in wartime or the legacy of the Holocaust, then you can miss it. But, I can assure you that “Lore” offers a unique vision of the costs of war at an individual level, along with a intriguing moral parable, that’s not like anything you’ve seen before.
The movie starts in the post-world war Gernamy (in 1945). Lore (Saskia Rosendahl) is a beautiful, blue-eyed adolescent, who lives with her mother, Mutti (Ursina Lardi) and four younger siblings in a prominent country home. Lore's father (Hans-Jochen Wagner) is a S.S. officer. He realizes that the end of the Nazi dream is near. Panic sets in the household -- the father shoots his family dog, burns the paper. The loyal enthusiasts and servants of Hitler now find themselves victims of their own toxic arrogance. Later, he is arrested by the allied forces and his wife, after weeping over the death of Hitler, decides to leave for the prison camp. Mutti, before leaving her five children, calls for Lore and gives the family's silver and jewelry along with orders to take her sister, twin brothers, and infant brother to her grandmother's home in Hamburg.
They had to walk nearly 500 kilometers across Germany (which is divided into American, British and Russian zones) to get to their grandmother's house. Across a war-ravaged country, they encounter many dead bodies and the film doesn’t spare the wrenching details. On One of the town, Lore sees her first photos of concentration camp atrocities. The locals inform her that the photos are pure American propaganda and the skeletal people in camp uniforms are really paid actors. The children have a stroke of good luck when Thomas (Kai-Peter Malina) accompanies them on their journey. He seems like a young Jewish guy with identity papers and has learned many survival skills, such as how to get through border passages and find food.
It was risky/controversial to think Nazi as a lead character, but it works. Lore as the member of 'Hitler Youth' is never afraid to display her disgust for the Jewish people. Saskia Rosendahl gives an astonishing performance as Lore, who is forced to confront the darkness within and the barbarity of a world where trust and love have been obliterated. She deftly portrays her character’s heaving sexuality, which is particularly evident after the children meet up Thomas. The most powerful scene in the movie is, when Lore has the sudden revelation, accepting the truth that she was sheltered from all those atrocities and the way she denounces her misplaced patriotism is emotionally overwhelming. The whole cast of children never give a performance that is calculated or less than believable.
Shortland's directing style observational and quietly measured, without great reliance on dialogues. She creates a world that's shockingly fractured, shot at weird angles and filled with quiet dread. Shortland's collaboration with the writer Robin Mukherjee on the adaptation of the book has depth, nuance and balance. "Lore" was one of the most beautifully photographed movies. Adam Arkapaw's cinematography ("Animal Kingdom", Snowtown") shifts focus from nature scenes to close-ups of ordinary objects and back again, which helps in the creation of mood and atmosphere while allowing us to feel that we are looking on very real private lives.
"Lore" can be considered as the companion of Michael Haneke's 2009 “The White Ribbon,” an allegorical black-and-white mystery that sought to identify the roots of Nazism in the rural Germany of the early 20th century. Haneke showed us a generation of young children that is incubated with the virus called "Fascism", whereas Shortland shows us a generation that was forced to face its consequences.
"Lore" is an disturbing and upsetting film set in a morally bleak landscape, but in the end it also offers a guardedly optimistic vision of the possibility of human change. This is an challenging and provocative film, which offers an eminent perspective on Germany's traumatic transition from conqueror nation to occupied state.
Lore - IMDb