Lore (***½)

Unlike the one-sided views of the tormented Holocaust victims and their suffering during Hitler’s terrifying reign, ‘Lore’ brings the audiences into the lives of a German family after the removal of Hitler from power. Winner of countless film festivals and an official selection for the 2013 Academy Awards in the category of Best Foreign Language Film, from Australia, from Music Box Films, ‘Lore’ is a breathtaking film adapted from the book, ‘The Dark Room’ (Rachel Seiffert).

In the film, ‘Lore’, five children go on a journey alone because their Nazi parents are taken to a camp. Mostly on foot, Lore (Saskia Rosedahl) guides her siblings to where they have relatives, Omi, in Hamburg. Along the way, a young man who had been liberated from a concentration camp, Thomas (Kai-Peter Malina) takes an interest in them and follows them, protecting them from American soldiers by claiming to be their brother, with Jewish papers. Together, they make the journey and discover new things about themselves.

 

I found Cate Shortland very friendly and enthusiastic about her piece. Having taken 6 years to accomplish from when she was given the book in Edinburgh, she claims to have enjoyed every moment of it. When asked what part she felt the deepest connection to, she mentioned the photographs in Thomas’s wallet because they were actual pictures from her husband’s family during that time. And her favorite character, as was mine, wasThomas, the mysterious young man who joined and took care of them. Of the beautiful scenes, Cate’s favorite part was when after they all bathed in the river, the younger siblings ran off to play, leaving Thomas alone with Lore. As Thomas’s arms drag through the water, we see, from his point of view, Lore pull herself under the water, only leaving her nose and eyes above, watching him. So beautiful is this moment and yet, so important to their relationship.

Much of the video is shot on handheld but, due to their circumstances, and I found it necessary, adding to the story. The color in the film is very significant. The colors blue and black dominate each and every scene, but when there is the presence of red, the importance of the shot and emotions are played with. I enjoyed this movie immensely because of the building strength within Lore, the female protagonist. In the beginning, she is so weak and ignorant, as if crouched in a box, afraid to stand or peek at the world outside. And in the end, she is strong, standing against the world that forces her into the box she had climbed out of because of the journey. Lore grows up through the journey, is exposed to things of the world, and, like the broken porcelain, learns that she doesn’t want to be caged any more.

Personally, I believe ‘Lore’ to be of the best international films I’d ever seen. When chatting with Cate, also the director of ‘Somersault’, after the screening at the Jimmy Stewart Theater, audience members congratulated her on her completion and asked questions about her background. Of the many, everyone understood the sensitive subject matter she presented and appreciated her adaptation. It was easily agreed that Cate is a pioneer of our time, willing to present the other side of the Europe’s haunting past.