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Aug 3, 2013Director/writer Cate Shortland has created something truly remarkable, forcing us to find within ourselves sympathy for a young Nazi. The story is grim and dense, but features one hell of a lead performance. Shortland combines wonderful visuals with a brutal story of survival, involving family and patriotism, and a running commentary on the state of Germany after the fall of the Third Reich.
As the German army collapses in the spring of 1945, the breakdown of a family serves as a microcosm of a country in despair in the closing days of World War II.
Lore (Saskia Rosendahl) and her four younger siblings are abandoned as their Nazi-supporting parents are forced to flee the Allied forces. As they travel on foot to their grandmother’s house in Hamburg, the children encounter a young Jewish refuge, Thomas, on whom they are forced to rely for both food and safe passage through Ally-occupied lands. As she is exposed to the lies of their parents, and begins to develop feelings for one whom she has been taught to hate, Lore is forced to come to terms with a belief system that is quickly unraveling.
It’s the children that have to do all the heavy lifting in the film dramatically, and they carry their weight, and then some. The film is anchored by a remarkable lead performance from Rosendahl, who comes across as a seasoned veteran, despite this being her debut performance. Her character goes from obnoxious adolescent to young adult, via a series of confronting moments where her morals and beliefs are challenged. Her vibrant youthful spirit is replaced with a burning rage with a war torn Europe as the backdrop.
A new perspective on an event often forces an audience to confront disturbing realities they may wish to avoid. Although “Lore” relates a story from the second world war, it reveals the point of view of those we do not often consider: children of a high-ranking Nazi official. This story may not be pleasant, but it is certainly fascinating.… Expand
Jul 12, 2013This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. One minute, the bigot in the bar, holding court at a table full of enabling friends, regales angrily about being passed over for a promotion to a Jew(because "I'm better than a Jew," he says), and then the next minute, in Time Out(from The Twilight Zone: The Movie), the bigot stands outside the tavern, staring out at Nazi-era Germany. The door, now a transmogrified wall, marks the beginning of a fever dream, in which the bigot pinballs between Berlin and Vietnam, learning firsthand about being "the other" in the midst of a pogrom. Ultimately, the American is forcibly escorted onto a train headed for Auschwitz, where he will, no doubt, burn in a crematorium. Not so dissimilar to Time Out, an unnamed journalist, the wife of a Nazi soldier, in A Woman in Berlin, also over drinks, albeit at a swankier affair and setting(a party at a hotel), likewise, denigrates the Jews, but implicitly. Even worse than pontificating about the inferiority of the Jewish people through slurs, they go unmentioned, in which she advocates the ongoing holocaust by asking for "a moment of silence", a heartfelt testimonial to honor the "brave" young men fighting across the European expanse. Six million dead later, the quietly anti-Semitic woman takes a walk in her enemy's shoes, as the film expands on Time Out's idea of comeuppance for racists, when she finds herself being raped by a Russian soldier and the ensuing ironic humiliation, upon the dawning that this basest of all subjugations is the Red Army's prerogative. The film itself is a reveal, that epiphanic moment when the audience has to reorientate themselves to the narrative's time and place, that climaxing reversal of fortune which characterizes The Twilight Zone occurs, here, instead at the outset, since the bombed-out buildings and the abounding detritus of war, with a start, we realize, doesn't belong to Krakow. It's a ghetto all right, but it's Berlin's ghetto. That's the twist. Continuing where Downfall left off, in Lore(adapted from Rachel Seiffert's triptych novel The Dark Room), the German side, once again, is given the agency, which to the controversy of some, humanizes the Nazi Party by precluding Jews from the narrative, a schematic necessity since the casual cruelty inflicted on the Polish citizenry, as seen in past films, would make it impossible for the audience to contemplate on the suffering that Germany endured in post-war Europe. What should we feel when Gunter, the son of a Nazi commandant, is gunned down beneath the foliage of trees? Unlike the Von Trapp children in The Sound of Music, Lore and her siblings are far from being naifs; their father is too close to Hitler's inner circle, and in fact, are collaborators, when during the evacuation sequence, we see them destroying documents alongside their parents, war criminals both. The restraint that Lore displays after Vater shoots the dog in cold blood is a restraint born out of Hitler Youth-taught ideology, which empoisons her mind with the concept of Aryan superiority over non-Aryans and animals alike. Hiding out in the Black Forest, the proud family makes no pretense of assimilation among the pastoral folks, presenting themselves as superior to the apolitical farmers, conveyed through their fancy dress and having the means to pay for comestibles. It's a crucifix, not the party symbol, a swastika, that affixes the side of a family's modest house. Lore and the beloved Julie Andrews musical, perhaps, not so coincidentally, share a common character name: Liesl, since the moving afterimage of these children journeying by foot towards Hamburg recalls the Von Trapp clan's hilly landscaped escape to Switzerland while "Climb Every Mountain" plays over the soundtrack. Aware of such iconography, the filmmaker includes a brief song interlude, turning Lore ephemerally into a parodical anti-musical, when the twins, Gunter and Jurgen, perform a war song that exhorts nationalism to an old woman, a fervent Hitler supporter. Do they understand the words? Yes. Gunter died thinking that Tomas, a camp survivor who provides safe passage across a reapportioned Germany, was one of them, a Nazi. Jurgen, in showing his sister the wallet he stole from Tomas, reveals that he too knows about the camps, repeating Tomas' words: "The man was a Jew. He was dead anyway," words that Tomas used to explain how the yellow star would help him deal with Americans. The theft protects Tomas from Oma. In the documentary Hitler's Children, author Niklas Frank explains how he executes his parents anew at every one of his public readings. Like Lore, the son of a Polish Governor-General was no innocent. Conversely, like Niklas, the duped young woman severs ties with her Nazi past, in the form of smashing a beloved deer figurine belonging to Mutti, which she smashes to smithereens with the heel of her shoe. But what about the other three? Niklas' siblings never repented. Will they?… Expand
May 18, 2013Very well made film with a refreshing take on WWII. The strongest element of the film is how it is shot, there is beauty found in every frame. The story moves along at a good pace, filled with tension. Performances are good, especially from a mostly young cast, however the central character of Lore, played excellently by Saskia Lumenthal, was quite frustrating; there were moments where she needed a kick up the backside. Ultimately though, this is an impressive film.… Expand
Apr 7, 2013This movie plods along and is very frustrating. Probably historically authentic poorly done writing and direction. This movie tries to show the dilemma between Nazi Germany and Jews, but can't seem to get out of its own way. I left the theater thinking I will never get this time back...
Mar 19, 2013Lore, (Saskia Rosendahl) is a teenager and the oldest of her siblings including her sister Liesel (Nele Trebs) and 3 brothers, twins Jurgen (Mika Seidel) and Gunther (Andre Frid) and still breast feeding baby Peter (Nick Leander Holaschke). It is Lore’s job, after their father, Vati, (Hans-Jochen Wagner) a Nazi officer, is arrested and their mother Mutti (Ursina Lardi), an admirer of HiHitler, voluntarily goes into an internment camp, to take the children to their grandmother’s home 500 miles away crossing mountains, forests, rivers and passing through American and Russian barriers. The mother gives Lore anything she feels her daughter could trade for safety and food from the house silverware to her wedding ring knowing that she will never see her children or husband again..
As Rodgers and Hammerstein so eloquently put it in a song many years ago, “You’ve Got To Be Taught” and Lore, along with her siblings, have been taught to hate all Jews and blame them for everything. As they travel they hear stories about Americans shooting prisoners and throwing them in graves and then producing pictures saying that they are Jews who were killed by Germans along with other atrocious tales that spins the truth on its head.
Along their journey the children cross paths with Thomas (Kai Malina), a few years older than Lore, who carries papers identifying him as Jewish though he looks nothing like the man in the photograph. We know very little about Thomas nor will we find out anything except that he goes out of his way to help the 5 children and, more than once, putting his own life on the line. The screenplay by Robin Mukherjee and Cate Shortland, the latter also directing, hit a false note trying to make more out of Lore and Thomas than really makes sense. The moment that Lore lashes out at Thomas with anti-semitic barbs does ring true.
The war has just ended, Hitler is dead and all that Lore has been taught to believe may not be true as she takes this journey across a land that shows little destruction as they go through outlying areas and forests.This is a film that comes from a different point of view and shows how innocent children become a part of the world they knew nothing about or dealt with because adults choose to go to war..
Saskia Rosendahl does an excellent job as Lore, a child that is hard to like yet is on her way to becoming an adult in a world that may tear her apart. Kai Malina is as stoic as an actor can be but still shows in small ways how war affects all. The rest of the cast all exist in a world that at the moment hasn’t any answers but are afraid of what the answers may bring.
The direction by Cate Shortland is almost a study in nature, both the good and bad, that surrounds humans but moves a little too slowly. “Lore” holds back too much information regarding Thomas and the grandmother that the children are looking forward to for their salvation hindering the story.… Expand
An engrossing but frustrating movie, so subtle in its depiction of a teenager struggling to come to terms with a world and worldview utterly upended that it almost trivializes the tragedy that Lore, we suspect, is just beginning to feel responsible for.