by Shabel Castro.
Film Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5 stars
Countless films and books focus on the aftermath of the Holocaust and its impact in history. Only rarely do they concentrate on Germany and its transition after the disintegrations of Hitler’s reign.
Set in a post-World War II setting, the film “Lore” introduces us to a fresh narrative told from the perspective of a 14-year-old girl named Lore (Saskia Rosendahl), whose parents are taken away by U.S. allied troops after the collapse of Hitler’s regime.
Directed by Australian Cate Shortland, recognized for her debut film “Somersault” (2004), the movie is in German with English subtitles and is based on a short story from the novel “The Dark Room” by Rachel Seiffert.
The film introduces us to the fear and chaos experienced by Germans after Hitler, , is pronounced dead. For Lore’s family, the fall of Hitler represents the fall of Germany and their entire lives.
Lore’s father is an SS officer who is taken prisoner by the allied troops. Realizing that she will also be arrested, Lore’s mother decides to turn herself in to a prison camp.
Before leaving, Lore’s mother instructs Lore to flee with her siblings to Hamburg where they can find and live with their grandmother.
Lore is left alone to care of her four siblings: an infant baby, a set of twin brothers, and one younger sister.
Lore tells her siblings that her mother has gone away to meet with their father, though deep inside she’s aware that they may never see their mother ever again.
Lore embarks on this 500-mile journey where she involuntarily transitions from a child to a woman. Fending for herself and her siblings, audience members are taken along through this voyage as the children try to survive in a world that they no longer understand.
While searching for food and trying to reach their grandmother’s home, we are able to witness the many confrontations Lore has to deal with, including coming to terms with the Holocaust and who it affected.
Lore is the epitome of Hitler’s vision of who the “pure Aryan race” should represent. With light blue eyes, white skin, and blonde hair, she is forced to try to comprehend the aftermath of the extreme policies and beliefs that she and her family supported.
In her journey Lore meets a young Jewish boy named Thomas (Kae-Peter Malina), for whom she develops both feelings of anger, confusion, and hatred because of his Jewish background, yet at the same time she develops a friendship with him while experiencing a sexual awakening.
In her debut film performance, Rosendahl captures the ignorance, fear, and confusion of the post-Hitler era magically. Her interaction with the other cast members is both raw and sincere. The tribulations in this film are not only physical, but also emotional and psychological.
The 500-mile journey is captured through the use of powerful cinematography. The calm beautiful background works perfectly as an antithesis to the tense, chaotic, and dangerous time period.
The film does not have much dialogue as Shortland’s form of storytelling is expressed more through actions, scenery, and facial expressions. Shortland is recognized for her use of close-ups to portray emotion; something she did not stray away from in this film.
The close-ups in the film are sometimes difficult to stomach as we see decayed bodies, blood, and the physical effect of hunger and thirst on human bodies. The vivid cinematography along with the beautiful musical scores transforms the film into something poetic and somewhat abstract.
This film may not be a pleaser for everyone as it has incoherent transitions and many moments where silence is the only thing captured on the screen. However, “Lore” can only be appreciated when looked at as a whole and for its intricate details.
Ultimately, like the aftermath of Hitler’s reign, this movie leaves audiences with a bitter after taste and a sense of unease. The film’s ability to capture these emotions makes it extraordinary.
“Lore” was released on February 8in New York and Los Angeles and was Australia’s official selection for the 85th Academy Awards. The film is being shown at the Angelika Film Center New York and Lincoln Plaza Cinemas.