up will be difficult for this young German girl. She will have to look after her siblings,
deal with the usual coming-of-age awkwardness, and come to terms with her
parents’ roles in the greatest crimes of the Twentieth Century. Yet, viewers will never shake the awareness
that millions had a far more terrifying road to travel than the title character
of Australian filmmaker Cate Shortland’s German language Lore (trailer
opens this Friday in New York.
war is in its final hours and the Allies are clearly going to win. This is distressing news for Hannelore’s mother
and father. He is an SS officer. She is a leading academic apologist for the
Third Reich. Anticipating capture, her parents
seem more concerned about burning documents (and shooting the dog) than their
children’s safety. In fact, it falls to
Lore to schlep her younger sister Liesel, twin brothers Jurgen and Gunther, and
the infant Peter nine hundred kilometers to the presumed safety of their
Lore intuitively understands how profoundly their fortunes have reversed. Where once her parents’ positions in the
regime gave the family influence and prestige, it is now a source of fear and
shame. Thinking it best to avoid the occupying
forces and domestic opportunists, Lore takes her siblings through the Black
Forest and over back roads as much as possible.
Yet, even in their limited interaction with strangers, word reaches them
of the horrors discovered at the concentration camps. People do not want to believe it, but Lore
reluctantly realizes there might just be something to it all.
Lore and her charges are highly vulnerable to the malevolent drifters and
deserters they encounter. However, they
might find a protector in Thomas, whose papers identifying him as a former
prisoner of the camps seem to provide him safe passage. He is a bit of a mystery man, but his
interest in Lore is hard to misinterpret.
faithfully based on the novella by Rachel Seiffert, the tone of Lore is closer to Andrea Arnold’s boldly
reconceived Wuthering Heights than
any traditional war or Holocaust drama. Yet,
where the austere scenes of natural ruggedness root viewers in Arnold’s vision,
that lack of context in Lore is glaringly
we know what has happened during the war, but Lore directly invites viewers to sympathize with a privileged daughter
of the perpetrators. One cannot help
suspect if we were to see events from the eyes of a former prisoner of the
camps, the forbidding wilderness scenes might look like considerably less
fearsome. While it is intriguing to observe
Lore process the moral implications of her parents’ actions and allegiances, it
inevitably begs the question just how willfully blind was she while her parents’
Fuhrer was in power?
Rosendahl is quite impressive as Lore, withstanding the open exposure of Shortland’s
many quiet close-ups. Likewise, Kai
Malina projects a genuine sense of danger (sexual and otherwise) as Thomas. However, the other assorted sister and
brothers are more like props for Lore to drag about.
paced, Lore allows the audience too
much time to analyze what is not there.
As a result, the degree to which the film skirts the difficult realities
of German war crimes becomes maddeningly conspicuous. As a nature survival tale, Lore is rather slow and
introverted. As a commentary on WWII it
is wholly incomplete. It works best as a
coming of age story, but Rosendahl’s work is still not sufficient to earn it a
forceful recommendation. For admirers of
Shortland and Seiffert, Lore opens
this Friday (2/8) in New York, uptown at the Lincoln Plaza and downtown at the
Angelika Film Center.
Labels: Australian cinema, Cate Shortland, WWII Cinema