Lore – Movie Review

One of the most powerful war stories to appear on screen. A story of the universal defeat of war and the enduring survival of the human spirit.

Written by director Cate Shortland and Robin Mukherjee and based on the novel “The Dark Room” by Rachel Seiffert, “Lore” tells a story of wartime heartbreak and betrayal. The betrayal is that of the German people by the Nazi Third Reich. As amazing as it seems, the average German citizen revered Adolph Hitler as a patriot and statesman, until the truth came out after the defeat of Germany at the hands of the Allies.

Lore stars Saskia Rosendahl as Lore, Nele Trebs as her younger sister Liesel and André Frid as one of her two younger brothers, Günther. The film is produced by Karsten Stöter and Liz Watts, the producer of the redoubtable Aussie blockbuster, “Animal Kingdom.” Nominated for eight AACTA awards and winner of awards around the world, “Lore” is Australia’s Official Selection for the USA Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

In the spring of 1945 the last shreds of German resistance collapsed and the invading armies of the Allies flooded into Germany with a vengeance. As the Allied forces sweep across the Motherland, the horrors of the holocaust are uncovered and the Third Reich is disgraced, along with all of Germany, beyond apology. This film is the story of five children who are abandoned by their Nazi loyalist parents to embark on a journey to their only hope of sanctuary with their grandmother 900 kilometers to the north.

With their Nazi father (Hans-Jochen Wagner) and mother (Ursina Lardi) imprisoned by the Allies, the children suddenly find themselves fallen from the socio-political elite into the masses of starving, sick, injured and defeated refugees. This change from the privileged class to a place on the social ladder almost completely lacking in civil rights comes as fast as the Blitzkrieg itself, although it only dawns on them over the first days and weeks or their starving flight.

Trading their last family jewels, watches and keepsakes for scraps of the most distasteful food, the teens and pre-teens are forced to confront their true place in the social order. They are forced to shoulder the sins of their parents and the entire Nazi regime. Whatever concepts they had of loyalty and service and drowned in the mud and blood of the disgraceful downfall of their political supremacy.

On the road, they meet a strange young man, Thomas (Kai Malina, following his breakout role in Michael Haneke’s simmering “The White Ribbon”), who offers to join them and help them on their way. Telling the occupying Russian and American troops he is a Jew, he is able to talk his way through potentially deadly circumstances. The victorious military forces are arresting all Nazi troops for interrogation, if the defeated German soldiers make it that far. Although he remains secretive to Lore and her siblings about his true identity, in the end his story is a mirror image of the story of the Reich. Thomas means well but in the end offers nothing but heartbreak and betrayal.

Lore tells a unique story and one that has not received enough attention post WWII. It tackles a difficult subject, which is the sense of betrayal, abandonment and despair experienced by defeated German citizens at the end of the war. Although nobody feels remorse at the outcome of the war, it is vital that we attempt to cope with the fact that Germans were lied to, and ultimately betrayed, by the Nazi regime, just as were their actual enemies. This is a good film with an important message. However, there is the possibility that viewers will take it as some kind of pro-Nazi statement. It must be considered in the larger context of citizens and governments, not simply in the light of German WWII politics.

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Directed by: Cate Shortland
Written by: Cate Shortland and Robin Mukherjee, based on the novel by Rachel Seiffert
Starring: Saskia Rosendahl, Kai Malina, Nele Trebs and André Frid
Release Date: February 8, 2013
MPAA: Not Rated
Run Time: 109 minutes
Country: Germany/Australia/UK
Language: German
Color: Color