Another exciting and varied season of the Robert Burns Centre Film Theatre Film Club screenings came to an end with a much anticipated showing of the German language film Lore (2012). Hosted by Tony Barbour, our knowledgeable expert on anything German, who opened his introduction by commenting on an article he had read in The Guardian written by John Patterson, which he admitted had persuaded him to earmark this film as a ‘must see’. He told us that Patterson’s had written ‘its wide range of contributors and influences make Lore something more than just another tale of post-Nazi Germany’, and the piece also pointed out ‘The movie didn’t feel like a German movie with its lyrical beauty, its focus on children and its hand held camerawork by Adam Arkapaw it felt French or Polish’.
Tony also informed a near capacity audience that the story was based on one of the three sections of The Dark Room Rachel Seifert’s Booker shortlisted novel and winner of the 2001 Guardian first novel award. Directed by the Australian writer and director Cate Shortland, whose only other feature film was 2004’s Somersault, which explored the themes of teenage sexuality and emotion and launched Abbie Cornish’s career. Lore is located in South Western Germany during the immediate aftermath of World War 2 in 1945. It tells the story of teenager Hannelore who with her sister, two brothers and a baby set out to travel 560 miles across a war ravaged country divided into separate military zones that allow no freedom of movement between them. They are journeying to their Oma’s home in Husum Bay near Hamburg. The children’s Vati (father) and Mutti (mother) were high-level Nazi personnel and fled when the allied forces were getting to close to there well appointed home. During the journey the children encounter various Germans and a young Jewish boy Thomas who arouses in Lore her budding sexuality.
An intense discussion followed the screening. It was agreed that although the story was moving the brightness of the camerawork was unusual for this type of movie. The reasoning behind this was thought to be that this potentially harrowing story was told through the eyes of the children which gave the film an almost dream like quality. The acting from the youngsters was exceptional especially seventeen-year-old German actress Saskia Rosendahl who gave a truly memorable performance as the 15-year-old Lore, (pronounced Laura) depicting an Aryan teenager who refuses to give in and accept the fact her devotion to Hitler’s indoctrination is flawed. She won an Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Award for Best Young Actress for this role.
Generally every one liked the film although one member remarked that he thought that there was a much broader story to be told. But it did allow us to glimpse what it takes to survive a situation that seems almost impossible to endure. The film in fact concentrates on two main themes: the first the effect of a wars aftermath on children and secondly on defeated people in general. The children are seen to change and grew up on the journey when they relies that their parents are not as saintly as the were led to believe where as the older generation appear to be unable to except the death of their beloved Fuhrer and still cling onto the Nazi ideology. The film offers no easy answers and no real conclusion as to the rights and wrongs of the situation that a defeated nation found it self in Shortland allows her audience to bring their own conclusions to her movie. We know can look forward to a summer break and next seasons Film Club which is due to start at the beginning of October.