Bright new talent Saskia Rosendahl stars as Lore, a young girl who has to make her way across war-torn Germany near the end of WWII, with her much younger siblings in tow, including her infant brother, Peter. They are trying to get safely to their grandmother’s home in Hamburg after their parents have been imprisoned by the Allies for Nazi crimes committed during the war. Germany has been divided into different zones, depending on which country had conquered the area and taken it under siege, and the children must traverse safely across nearly all of them.
Along the way, they run into a young man, Thomas (Kai-Peter Malina), who reveals himself to be a Jew with papers which allow him to travel freely across the country – documents that none of the children have. The baby will make it easier to beg for food, so the group cautiously align for a time, and make their way toward Hamburg together.
Like her siblings, Lore has been indoctrinated since her birth in a number of things, including an extreme hate and mistrust toward Jewish people, and an unquestioning pride in and respect for her parents and her country. Now, however, she has to decide if she can trust Thomas enough to place her life and the lives of the children she is responsible for into the hands of someone she has been raised to hate.
Throughout their journey, things are made even more complicated for Lore when she is forced to face glimpses of the horrors her father and Hitler had been committing against other people during the war, and having Thomas around to help with feeding the other children causes her to question everything her parents had taught her to believe. She begins to realize that most of the life she thought she knew has been a lie, and not only can she not trust the things she’d learned growing up, but she can’t trust herself very completely anymore, either.
World War II has been made into a zillion films and documentaries, countless books and articles have been written about the subject, but this one is told from the other side of what we’re used to. Like all teenagers, Lore is trying to find her own truth somewhere in the middle, between what’s she’s been taught and what she’s seen for herself, with her own eyes. But unlike most of us, she is having to find a way to do so without having to feel ashamed of her parents for their beliefs and truths, and this constant struggle is etched on young Saskia’s face in nearly every frame. Is it any wonder, then, that this little gem of a film has been selected to be Australia’s official submission to the Academy Awards this year?
Lore is screening as part of the Toronto International Film Festival on Sunday, September 16, 2012 at 9:15am.