Lost with Lore
Postwar apocalypse at Milwaukee Film Festival
Going on the road was no pleasure jaunt for the millions of Europeans displaced by World War II. The most famous cinematic destination was Israel, the Promised Land for the Jewish survivors in Exodus. In Lore, the promised land for the children of Nazis is grandma’s house in northern Germany. Getting there involves an odyssey across a surreal swath of carnage. The children grew up believing in their parents’ world and gradually discover that thire false gods have been ground into dust.
Directed by Australia’s Cate Shortland, the artfully filmed Lore’s eponymous protagonist (played by Saskia Rosendahl) is a pampered teenager. Her naïve tranquility is disturbed when a rumbling truck pulls alongside the family’s mansion somewhere in Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe. Father has returned after an absence of many months and a glance at the tabs on his uniform collar reveal an SS officer. He trucks his wife, children and possessions to a cottage in southern Germany, remote, he hopes, from the war zone. And then he disappears.
Lore still believes in “the final victory” despite all evidence of the Third Reich’s impending collapse. But after Hitler’s death is broadcast on the radio and their mother—a cold and bewildered woman—vanishes, Lore is left with the vague injunction to guide her younger siblings to grandmother’s house near Hamburg. It’s like the Brothers Grimm in a world of live ammunition and unexploded shells. The monsters they encounter are human.
A mysterious young man in black tags along: whether friend or foe or ally of convenience is unclear. The terse, meaningful screenplay is shot through with erotic tension and the pregnant with the possibility of imminent murder or rape. Prejudices must dissolve, along with a refusal to believe that sometimes anything is possible when survival is at stake.
Lore is being presented by the Milwaukee Film Festival as part of its “Passport: Germany” series. It will be screened at 4:30 p.m., Sept. 27 at the Downer Theatre; and 4:30 p.m., Sept. 28 and 1:30 p.m., Oct. 6 at the Fox-Bay Cinema.