Lore (2012)


What a pleasant change, I’ve actually watched a movie and really, really  liked it. I’d say it was certainly the best wartime movie I’ve seen in a long while. Lore is a German/Australian/UK co-production. Spoken in German, with German actors and subtitled in English. It’s based on Ruth Seiffert’s highly acclaimed novel The Dark Room. Or, to be more precise, on one of the three interlinked stories in the book.

Lore is the eldest daughter of a prominent Nazi functionary. Indoctrinated with the ideology, she blindly loves her father and the Führer, follows every order without questioning and takes everything she’s ever been taught to be the absolute truth. The movie begins at the end of the war. Her parents are in distress, something has happened but they won’t tell their children. The family flees to a holiday home in the country where people treat them aggressively. Lore has no clue what is going on. She knows her parents are hiding something. The father leaves them, and shortly afterwards the mother leaves too. She is giving herself up and goes to prison unsolicited. Before she leaves she tells Lore that the Führer is dead. Everything is lost. Lore has to take her four siblings, one of them is just a baby, and walk in direction of Hamburg where her mother lives.

The movie follows the children on their difficult journey towards Hamburg. It shows how difficult and dangerous it is for them. They risk starvation, rape, being killed or captured. They have to cross three different sectors, the US, the Russian and the UK sector. Even though they are only children, they are suspected and interrogated. At one point a young man starts to follow them. He carries papers and pretends being their older  brother. This makes all of their lives easier.

Lore is more than a road movie, it delicately portrays the total disenchantment of a young girl. On their journey they are not only confronted with severe deprivations but they learn the truth about their beloved father and the Führer. Everything Lore believed in was built on a lie.

I’ve never seen a movie, which focussed on the children of high Nazi officers. I never wondered what became of them after the war. The movie shows what a long and painful process it was to learn the truth.

The story as such is quite gripping and the way it was told was masterful. I haven’t seen any  of Cate Shortland‘s other movies but she’s a film director I’ll keep in mind. Lore was beautifully filmed and the score, written by Max Richter, enhanced the gloomy atmosphere of the film. The atmosphere and the mood was probably what I liked best: lyrical, melancholic and gloomy.

I’m not surprised Lore has won so many prizes and been nominated for many awards. I’d say it’s the first 5/5 movie I’ve seen this year. Don’t miss it.

Has anyone seen the film?


12 thoughts on “Lore (2012)

  1. Guy Savage says:

    I wasn’t crazy about this one to be honest. I much preferred the documentary Hitler’s Children.

    • Really, I liked it a lot but I was wondering occasionally if the approach was justified.
      I think a documentary, being more sober, might be even better.
      I really need to see if I can get it.

  2. the war movie buff says:

    Sounds interesting. It has gotten good reviews. Not exactly my kind of movie, but sometimes you want something different. I do appreciate great cinematography. How does it compare to “Empire of the Sun” and “Hope and Glory”? Did you mean to say that they are going to their grandmother’s house?

    • Yes, thier grandmother’s house.
      You can’t compare it at all. It’s not a children’s movie at all and I’d even say it’s not appropriate for children under 16 or so. It has a sexual vibe and all the references to rape… It’s more like Anonyma, only the focus is on children.
      There is nothing uplifting. I think you’d find it interesting.

  3. nem baj says:

    Mixed feelings on my part.

    I very much liked the sensuality in the filming of, well, the sexual awakening of Lore; also in the rendering of the boys’ contacts with nature. That such phenomena should occur even under rather dire circumstances – easier though than those met by a lot of people at the time – shouldn’t be a surprise. Had the filmmaker stuck to that point, or better, pushed it further – Liliana Cavani or Jane Campion come to mind – I would have loved it.

    Unfortunately, at least for me, the historical/cultural reflexion is clumsy… at best. It’s a detail perhaps, but I don’t understand how one can cast twins and not hint in any way at their iconic status at the time; I’m not only referring to the NS-regime fascination for actual twins, but also to the doppelganger theme which had long been a part of German culture. The death of Günther under Russian bullets – boo, hiss, bad Russians – seems to be a symbol for Germany’s partition but frankly, we’ve seen much better (ex. the facial paralysis in Deutschland Bleiche Mutter).

    In my eyes the script’s big weakness (which may also be in the source novella) lies in the character not engaging at all into conflict with adults – something Come and See, for instance, developed wonderfully. It would have make sense since she’s a teenager abandoned by her parents: yet she seems to be a total stranger to her elders. Hence, the dropping of symbolic images, such as the glue/concentration camp poster/father’s picture, or the father shooting the dog, etc. look like external historical judgments from outside, and not at all like the complex experiences such a character, whose worlds have literally been turned upside down, could have had.

    Given the talent of the filmmaker, I think I could have related to that. Instead, I was left unable to really care for an actual innocent, and a bit annoyed that one would use artificial ‘proofs of understanding’ to make me care.

    • I liked it a lot when I watched it but now I realize I’ve forgotten almost all about, which is certainly a bad sign.
      I have still not seen Come and See and therefore can’t compare but Deutschland Bleiche Mutter is certinaly much better. More consistent overall.
      Maybe it’s die to the novella. Jane Campion happens to be my favourite film maker. I wonder if Campion would had done it differently. I just think she’d never choose to set a story like that (the part on sexual awakening) in a context like this. She stays away from the political, sticking to the social and historical. Maybe that’s the better option.

      • nem baj says:

        Come and see is a nightmare, but as far as ‘children in war’ go it’s a masterpiece. You’re right about Campion probably not choosing such a heavily charged context – yet precisely she might not be tempted to add political judgments, and be able to concentrate on Lore’s character in such a complex environment.

        That said, there are some accurate historical points in Lore, such as the almost general disbelief and distrust of the Allied ‘guilt campaign’. Even former KZ inmates at the time (for instance, Eugen Kogon) were worried the campaign would provoke the opposite of its intended effect.

      • I will watch Come and See one of these days but I keep on postponing it. I expect it to be quite hard to watch.
        I don’t think Lore is bad at all but it’s one of those movies I found better while watching. It lost some of its appeal by now.
        I wonder if a German film director had made a movie based on the story if it had been very different.

      • nem baj says:

        I agree this is still a very watchable movie. Have you seen The Reader? (I haven’t yet, and may try to read the novel first)

      • I’ve read it twice and have seen it. I didn’t like the movie.
        I find Kate Winslet was very wrong fro that role.

      • nem baj says:

        Thanks. I’ll probably stick to the book. The “ghost of war”, its untold persistence are hard things to film, although there are some brilliant works (I’m thinking of Resnais’ Muriel and Haneke’s Caché). Lore is both ‘wartime’ and ‘post-war’, that’s a paradox the movie never solves.

  4. […] reception of Lore confirms its belonging to a neo-rubble genre. As nem baj says on allaboutwarmovies.com, “Lore is both ‘wartime’ and ‘post-war’, that’s a …” Existing within a paradox of unfinished metanarrative Rs (reconciliation, restabilization, […]

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