More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2012
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)
* Contains spoilers *
Lore (2012) is a film that, along the way of the journeys that we see made, shares beliefs current at the time of the fall of The Third Reich. In the case of Lore's family, neither parent is an ordinary German citizen, because he is a high-ranking SS officer and she appears implicated in unethical medical experimentation, and Lore is in the Hitlerjugend: occasional near-religious fervency for Hitler, and a disbelief in the American reports and evidence of atrocity, are the stuff of utterance in these times, when the idea that Holocaust denial could be legislated against seems impossible.
The film is not those beliefs or utterances, but they are an integral part of the travel that is encompassed from the Schwarzwald, in the far south-west, to the Baltic north of Hamburg to an island akin to, but not, Föhr, where we leave Lore. (Not before, as elsewhere, a tactile quality in the rich mud has been experienced, and the otherness of crossing by causeway to this island has vividly been shown.)
Lore, as the eldest of five, has been put in charge of getting her brothers and sisters up to the North because her mother, having denounced her husband to him as a Feigling (coward) proudly strides off to deliver herself to the forces of occupation - one of the first striking moments for Lore is when, having raced after her mother and caught her up, she finds her mother already so resigned to what she is doing that she appears to have nothing to spare for Lore and the family after those parting instructions.
What follows is the journey, the confrontation with death, brutality and violence, and it is almost all the time just the passage of the five siblings, plus Thomas when he joins their number and (and as long as) makes himself useful. Director / co-screenwriter Cate Shortland and Saskia Rosendahl as Lore brilliantly show her teetering at the edge of whether she should associate with Thomas, as an assumed Jew, or feel sexually excited by him and his touch, just as, in her fascination for the various corpses, she challenges upbringing that she should not have curiosity, and should not harm others or steal.
This fractured sense of belonging in and relating to a world that is no longer the same Germany, but even split into three zones that they have to negotiate, is there in the cinematography of the characters, with part of a face here, maybe not in focus, a focus that varies through the shot to lead to a disjunction, or a conflict between the scene and the figure in it. By contrast, the sensual, even visceral, quality of nature is fed into every frame in which it alone features, in panorama and in close detail, touches reminiscent of great masters such as Tarkovsky, but with more of a sense of urgency, though none less of integration into the narrative.
The film shows a quest, and we have to decide - as does Lore - why, for what, and what matters, because all that she knew before and trusted now seems unreliable. What does happen next matters less than that Lore has made this journey and unlearnt much in the process. Getting to where we must leave her, having been allowed to be part of that transformation (although we always knew that we stood outside it), we leave her as herself, as Lore
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