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Film Review: Lore --- Hamburg Critics Choice Award
by Rose Finlay

Lore is the tragic film of a young girl (Saskia Rosendahl) who must travel with her four younger siblings through post-war Germany after her Nazi parents are imprisoned. Along the way they encounter Thomas (Kai-Peter Malina), an ambiguous young man, who was recently released from a concentration camp. As Lore struggles to keep her family alive, she faces many horrifying situations that threaten to break her spirit.

The storytelling in Lore is stunning in its visuals as well as its pacing. The film is filled with subtle (and not-so-subtle) imagery and foreshadowing. The beginning is filmed almost as though they are living in a dream. The children run playing through fields and the camera shakes as it follows them, giving it an unreal feeling. At one point the young brothers find a cave in the woods. One boy enters the cave while the other stands nervously at its entrance. This foreshadows a dark event that occurs much later in the film. Whereas the beginning is dreamlike, soon it transitions into stark reality when Lore‘s parents are imprisoned and she must begin the journey across the impoverished and broken Germany.

Perhaps the most poignant aspect of the film is Lore‘s relationship with Thomas. He becomes interested in her when he notices her at a refugee area. He then begins to follow her, helps her. However, when Lore sees his papers which mark him as Jewish, she faces conflict over what she has learned and accepting help from a man she was taught to hate. The most interesting aspect of this relationship is that much of the conflict occurs silently. There is not much dialogue about the situation, but it is clear every time Thomas touches her or when they look at each other that the issue exists. Later, when the truth of Thomas‘ identity comes to a head, it is interesting to see Lore deal with the truth. This conflict of Lore‘s feelings and Thomas‘ agenda in staying is the driving point of the film and incredibly fascinating.

In addition to Lore‘s story, the small side vignettes of regular citizens’ lives that are shown are also disturbing and moving. The old woman whose husband committed suicide, the lecherous eel catcher, the breastfeeding woman and her baby, and the many random dead lying forgotten in the ruins of a once powerful country. Not all are given much time, but all play a large role in shaping the tone of the movie and the character of Lore. They help show the sharp contrast between Lore‘s grandmother‘s life that has been relatively untouched by the war and the reality that faced millions of others. By allowing the viewer to experience these horrors through the eyes of a child, our historical understanding of the time period is really eradicated and the scene is stripped bare.

While Lore is an exhausting tale of survival, it is also a beautifully rendered film. That the film relies on imagery more than dialogue is one of its supreme strengths. It leaves much to be analysed, and it may just stay with you for days after you finish watching it. Do not miss this masterpiece directed by Cate Shortland.