Lore (pronounced Laura) is an Australian-German co production set in the Spring of 1945. As World War Two comes to an end, a young woman finds her world turned upside down as everything she believed to be true, turns out to be false. Lore (Saskia Rosendahl) is the teenage daughter of hard-line Nazis whose parents leave to go into hiding as the Allies tighten their net around Germany. Lore is left to look after herself and four younger siblings in a Germany in which their Aryan superiority is now a handicap. As the children set out for the weeks long walk towards their Grandmother’s house in Hamburg they are followed by a young man called Thomas (Kai Malina) who occasionally helps them but turns out to be a Jew, recently freed from a camp.
I’d never heard of this film until two nights ago when I was watching last week’s Film 2013 and it got a glowing review. Knowing my girlfriend and I were heading into the city centre the next day we decided to see it at our local art house cinema on the recommendation of the TV critics. I’m glad that we did. I found Lore to be a compelling coming of age drama and a fresh story set in a micro world around a much farmed era of film making.
I found Lore fascinating as the central character, whose age is never stated but we assume to be around sixteen. She has been bought up in a world of a single ideology in which she is only taught one thing – she is superior to all others. Lore has typical Aryan looks and it turns out, a typical Nazi view of the world. Even after she is told of Hitler’s death she still believes that the final victory is just around the corner and states that “Before victory, there must be pain”, a phrase that could have come straight from the Fuhrer’s mouth. Lore slowly begins to realise as she struggles to get food and encounters first American and later Russian soldiers that perhaps the final victory won’t be coming but her indoctrinated ideology remains steadfast.
The film could be seen as an allegory for belief in ones or ones country’s superiority over others. We look back with shock at Nazi ideology but there are still many countries today, including the most powerful, who teach their children that their country is the best in the world. I found a parallel in Lore’s story and that of modern American children. When Lore leaves the comfort of her Nazi upbringing and enters the real world she is shocked and disgusted to discover other races and people living just like her. This reminded me of a scene in the Documentary The Imposter in which an American woman left Texas for the first time for Spain (which she believed was on the other side of the country) and was shocked to find Coke on sale. People who are taught one thing or gain all of their information from one source are much more likely to fear and distrust outsiders much as Lore does.
With Nazism at an end and a young family to care for, Lore’s world is further twisted when a young Jewish man helps them to survive, at first by pretending to be their brother and later in more violent ways. You can see the distrust in Lore’s eyes and the hatred once she discovers the young man’s race although there is a crack of realisation that perhaps not everything she has been told is correct. The central relationship is an interesting one and features violence and a burgeoning sexuality which was only hinted at and I’d like to have seen explored more. I thought that the performances were remarkable. Saskia Rosendahl has the perfect Ayran look with almost model like, angular features and piercing blue eyes. She is excellent as the young woman whose world has ended and carries the film. Kai Malina is also good and maintains a lot of mystery about his character. Unusually too for a film about the fall of Nazism, as the Jewish character he isn’t particularly likeable although I don’t see this as a reason to label the film as apologist. There were no likeable characters in the entire film. Nele Trebs was also very good as the second oldest child.
Overall Lore is an interesting film about a girl who enters the real world for the first time. Her bubble has burst and her dreams have died and with them so has her innocence. The film is about her coming to terms with the lies that she has been fed since birth and I thought it conveys the emotions and state of mind of its central character well. I occasionally thought that the family managed a little too well for middle class children who now have the whole world against them but strong characters, beautiful cinematography and excellent story telling make up for any imperfections.