Lore: a German 14 year old in the year 1945 surviving. The movie opens with Lore’s parents destroying written records of their involvement with the Holocaust. The movie is not clear as to the specific S.S. position held by the father but it is clear he is not a mere soldier. Lore is the oldest of five children with the youngest being a baby brother. After the parents are arrested by the Allies, the five children, on their own, must find their way to grandmother’s house (honestly) in Hamburg. The arrests of the parents occur off camera and the movie’s unusual storyline commences after their departure. To reach their designation, the children have to travel through a forest and lands controlled by different allies (Russians, Americans, British). In a war torn country, survival is difficult and food is always an issue. The mother left Lore with cash, jewelry, silverware and trinkets to bargain for food. Lore exchanges the items long before they leave the forest. A young man named Thomas appears in the forest and for reasons not entirely clear, helps Lore, her younger sister, the twin boys and the baby. Thomas is a Jewish survivor. The movie presents the German perspective of the Holocaust as the war comes to an end. Saskia Rosendahl, in her introductory role, is superb as Lore. As Lore interacts with people who continue to believe in Hitler, she learns that what her parents taught her is a lie. The film poses the question: what do you feel when you learn that your father was a murderer and your mother was complicit in the killing? As Lore learns, hate spills from her mouth as she and her siblings become increasingly dependent on Thomas, played by Kai Malina. The German citizenry believe the newspaper photos of concentration camps are merely portrayals by Hollywood actors. The startling contrast between the background horror and the forest scenery is part of the film’s excellence. The director is Cate Shortland, an Australian. Lines such as “Hitler loved his country too much” are hard to digest. The story is based on actual events. Source material is from a novel “The Dark Room” written by the daughter of the real life Lore. The horror of the times is presented with surreal imagery. This 108 minute German film (subtitled) does not have a Hollywood ending. However, it is clear that by the end of this film Lore is no longer a naïve 14 year old with a racist belief system. The movie attacks stereotypes, reminds you that horrors are perpetrated by individuals, and leaves you pondering the ability of humans to commit evil. Showing the Holocaust aftermath from a German perspective makes for an unusual but brilliant film.
Side note: the photos in Thomas’ wallet are from the director’s husband’s grandmother who left Berlin in 1937.