“Never forget who you are.” These are the last words Lore will here from her mother. It is the year 1945, the end of World War II, and as Lore’s parents are high-ranking Nazis, the Allies arrest them. Day-to-day Lore, the oldest of five children, is responsible for her younger sister and brothers. Their only hope lies in reaching their grandmas house located up in the north. But to get there they have to travel a long distance across the war-torn Germany. On their dangerous journey they will experience suffering, egoism and human abysses. When they receive help from Thomas, a Jew, of all people and Lore begins to have an amorous affection for him, she starts to over think the ideology she has been told all her life.
The movie Lore is based on one of the three novellas in Rachel Seiffert’s bestselling and on the Booker Prize Shortlisted novel The Dark Room. It was directed by Australian Cate Shortland, who was also involved in the production of the award-winning film Somersault.
Lore is not only about the fate of his leading actress and her sister and brothers but also deals with the postwar period in Germany. After many films about World War II itself, it is interesting to have a look at what happened after its ending. It shows how people dealt with the final defeat of their mother country and the sudden loss of their leader, Adolph Hitler. Some are disillusioned, not knowing how to go on in life after everything they lived for seems not longer to exist. Others cannot accept the fact that Germany lost the war, still believing in the “ultimate victory” being promised by Hitler. But what units a lot of them is, that the Nazi ideology still exists in their heads.
Even for Lore, caring sister and innocent adolescent, it is hard to overcome the prejudices she has been taught all her life. As the film moves on she finds herself in disunion. On one side the life she led till now and her mother’s last words. On the other she can no longer shut her eyes over the crimes that the Nazis committed and she gets to know Thomas. He does not seem to be in accordance with the propaganda about Jews as human vermin. During the film Lore’s inner struggle also breaks through the surface erupting in very emotional outbursts of fury.
The film lives by his strong leading actress and screen debutante, Saskia Rosendahl, putting herself successfully in the position of Lore. Although it might be difficult to show how people in that time actually coped with the ending of the war and the problems, she never seems put-on but very authentic in her play. The audience seems to be travelling with her, sharing her thoughts as well as emotions. Yet also the actors in the supporting roles play very well.
Apart from that the movie involves well-considered details and imagery. When Lore touches the posters showing the execution of Jews being put up by the Allies the fresh glue sticks to her hands. She is horrified by the images and rubs her fingers on her dress to get rid of it. This is a very strong scene since the glue can be seen as a symbol for the guilt adhering to all Germans for their actions or just for turning a blind eye to all the crimes. Brilliant is also the symbolic of the surprising last scene. The open end leaves room for speculations but also a certainty that something in Lore’s world changed forever.
Still it is very hard for Germans to confront their past. But the German-Australian co production of Lore is a truly honest attempt to show the truth as best as possible. It is highly emotional, cruel and deeply moving. Lore was not made with the intention to entertain but first of all to encourage us to reflect things. And this is exactly what the film does. It leaves you behind in your comfortable cinema seat, absorbed with thoughts about an uncomfortable topic.
Review by Hannah Vogel
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