Lore

(MA) Transmission Films DVD/BD

It may be a first that Australian director Cate Shortland’s Lore (a German/Australian co-production) is submitted to the Academy Awards in the Best Foreign Language Film category.

The film also has the distinction of being chosen as film of the year by the Catholic Film Office in 2012.

Lore tells the story of Hannelore, the oldest daughter of five children. Her parents are Nazis. At the end of war, and with the death of Hitler, they instruct their children to journey from the Black Forest to their grandmother’s home in Hamburg. They abandon them to this journey as a way of ensuring they will not be arrested by the Americans.

Followed soon after by her obviously stressed mother, Lore is left to fend for her younger sister Liesel and twin brothers as well as the baby Peter. The youngsters are joined on the long journey to their grandmother by Thomas, who claims to be a Jewish survivor of a death camp.

Everything in Lore’s moral view of the world is challenged by the presence of Thomas on this literal and figurative journey. This family’s children have been part of the Hitler youth. What does she make of a previously despised Jew who is now their saviour?

The relationship between Lore and Thomas becomes the film’s moral compass, around which decisions are made and innocence lost.

Simply because of her worldview Lore isn’t a particularly sympathetic character. Her initial attitude to Thomas’ heritage and her general lack of charm become part of a more complex human journey as the film documents their travels in impressionistic fragments.

As is discussed in the Catholic Film Office press release about the film, it’s the complex and absorbing “conversion” of the character of Lore that makes this brave film poignant, thoughtful and challenging.

Jury chair, Fr Richard Leonard SJ of the Catholic Film Office, said, “The impossible journey Lore makes in this film is much more than the physical; it is the entry into seeing, believing and trusting in a common humanity. This film is about conversion.”

Shot in a hand-held, impressionistic style, the film may not be for everyone. But Shortland shows true artistry in the way the film carefully unfolds.

With universally excellent performances, this is a film that deserves attention.

Adrian Drayton

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