In war-torn Germany, a young woman is forced to trek across the country with her young siblings to seek refuge with their grandmother. Based on Rachel Seiffert’s bestselling novel The Dark Room, Lore is a unique war story, told from the perspective of the children of Nazis. Full review after the jump.
In 1945 the German resistance collapsed and Allied troops entered the country in large numbers. Nazis were arrested and taken to camps where they were imprisoned, sometimes never to be seen of again. We meet Lore (Saskia Rosendahl) as her Nazi father returns from the SS. Her parents are packing up the house and the family are destroying anything which links them to the Nazis. They flee to a country cottage, but it isn’t long until the family is torn apart and the children are left to fend for themselves. The only hope for the family is to travel across the war-torn land to their grandmother’s house, 900km away in the north. For a group five Nazi children, this is no easy task. Not only do they have to deal with hunger, exposure and health issues on their long journey, but they also must hide the fact that are not on the “good” side – something which Lore takes a long time to comprehend.
While the tough journey across the country was fascinating, it was the journey which Lore herself took that interested me more. Seeing the war from “the other side” isn’t so common, so from a start I was intrigued and engaged in the story. Lore and the other children had been bought up to believe the Nazi line through-and-through – for them it was simply all they knew. With her parents gone, Lore fought against her instincts fiercely- believing in their way of life was her way of staying connected to them. However, the further into the journey they got, the more Lore began to understand (and was unable to ignore) that the Nazis were not the pure and good god-fearing men she had always believed them to be. This is as much a coming-for-age/loss of innocence story as it is a war one.
It was impossible not to feel sympathy for Lore and her siblings – they were simply believing what they were told, and they knew no other way; they certainly didn’t deserve their fate.
The cinematography in this film was stunning, and the German countryside was bought fully to life. I loved the photography of the nature, and the close attention paid to the look of the terrain and the sound the family made moving through it. I was fully immersed in the world on the screen – this goes both for the beauty of nature, and the ugly stench of death and despair that is wartime. The sparing use of music was also very effective, and in particular the Nazi songs that the children sang were both beautiful and heart-breaking. Finally, much praise has to be given to the child actors who gave such raw and emotional performances.
Lore is Australia’s nominee to be considered for the Best Foreign Film award at the 2013 Academy Awards – and surely it has a good chance of being nominated. It is an extremely well-directed film, which engages the audience and has them fully invested in the outcome of the children and their seemingly impossible journey.
Director: Cate Shortland
Writer(s): Cate Shortland, Robin Mukherjee (screenplay), Rachel Seiffert (novel)
Starring: Saskia Rosendahl, Kai Malina, Mika Seidel
Runtime: 109 minutes
Release date(s): Australia: September 20 2012