Starring: Saskia Rosendahl, Nele Trebs, Kai-Peter Malina
You may like this if you liked: Come and See (Elem Klimov, 1985), The Downfall of Berlin: Anonyma (Max Färberböck, 2008), The Tin Drum (Volker Schlöndorff)
Lore is adapted from one of the stories from Rachel Seiffert’s The Dark Room, and directed by Somersault director Cate Shortland. Set in Germany after the fall of Hitler, after her nazi parents are forced to go to prison, Hannalore (Rosendahl) is left to look after her four younger siblings. She has to embark on a journey across a divided post war Germany to her Grandmother’s house with only her family’s jewellery to use as payment for food and transport. Because of their parents, the children all have certain views against certain groups in society and after a turn of events they are forced to rely on the help of a Jewish stranger called Thomas (Kai-Peter Malina).
I personally thought Australian director Cate Shortland’s last film Somersault was, though a bit miserable, a very good understated film that was beautifully shot. Lore is just as beautifully shot, but probably even more miserable. However, this is a compelling and deeply human story. The cinematography and direction create an atmospheric experience. There are frequently many nature shots which show the beauty of nature almost as a contradiction to the themes of humanitarian suffering and destruction.
This is a film that depicts a very rarely examined part of history, which proves fascinating and perhaps poses more subtle questions than it could ever answer. This may be because there may be no exact answers, but this only adds to the film’s very human power and emotional impact. In this film Germany is divided into sections controlled by different countries and these children were all brought up by Nazi parents and so brought up to love Hitler and all his ideologies, despite their innocence as children. Being a very human film, the performances from all are excellent, evoking sympathy and compassion, especially Saskia Rosendahl as Hannahlore (or Lore for short). To get to their grandmother’s house they must cross several territories risking their lives, and the journey they embark on is frequently harrowing and tense, making for a deeply involving but emotionally draining experience.
Shortland does not shy away from making Lore an uncomfortable viewing experience, which only adds to the feel of authenticity. There are prominently extreme close ups of the characters that really capture the pain and confusion that is in their minds as they face an extremely unfamiliar world. There are many disturbing and genuinely upsetting scenes, however this was necessary to portray the experience that these characters would have faced. Shortland has produced a film that packs a real and unforgettable emotional punch.
Harrowing and deeply involving, Lore is not for the faint hearted, but a very human and deeply fascinating depiction of a viewpoint of a time in history that is rarely examined. The direction and cinematography are at times beautiful and then also intense and haunting, showing a director at the top of her game.