Cate Shortland‘s latest film Lore is a post WWII drama focused on a group of siblings still doting on their ideological upbringings, unaware of the truth beyond their country’s borders. An adaptation of Rachel Seiffert‘s The Dark Room novella.
Synopsis can be read as follows (via TIFF 2012):
“Left to fend for herself when her SS officer father is captured by the victorious Allies at the end of World War II, a fourteen-year-old German girl (striking newcomer Saskia Rosendahl) must lead her four siblings on a gruelling trek across the war-ravaged countryside — and must put her trust in the very person she was taught to hate.
Adapted by director Cate Shortland and co-writer Robin Mukherjee from a novella by Rachel Seiffert, LORE is both a gripping survival story and a bold examination of the legacy of Nazism and its horrors. Without invoking the fallacy of universal guilt, LORE demonstrates how an insidious ideology can warp the minds and hearts of those too young to recognize its terrible lies — and how guilt and shame can beset even those whose only sin was to believe the monstrous ideas handed down to them by their parents.
As the last shreds of German resistance to the Allied forces fall away in the spring of 1945, fourteen-year-old LORE (Saskia Rosendahl) joyfully welcomes her father — a high-ranking officer in the SS — back to their stately Bavarian home. But celebrations are cut short as her parents quickly move to erase any trace of their participation in the Nazi regime. Photographs, personal documents and medical records are burned, LORE’s mother wraps up the family silverware and her father shoots the family dog as the couple rush LORE and her four siblings out of the family home ahead of the advancing Allies. But when both of her parents are summarily snatched up and imprisoned by the victors, LORE and her brothers and sister — one of them still only an infant — are left to fend for themselves, forcing them to undertake a gruelling 900-kilometre trek to their grandmother’s house in search of refuge. As they trudge through the war-ravaged countryside, with LORE compelled to beg for food and shelter from the suspicious, frightened or wholly self-interested people they encounter, these once-privileged, innocently patriotic children are brought face to face with the dreadful consequences of their parents’ beliefs — and in order to survive, LORE must place her trust in the very person she was taught to hate.
While many films have addressed the aftermath of Nazism, and the tangled web of complicity that bound so many ordinary Germans to the unthinkable crimes of the regime, few have brought this complex issue home with such intimate power. Brilliantly photographed by Adam Arkapaw — who gives the devastated landscape an eerily ethereal glow — and featuring a star-making performance by the striking young newcomer Rosendahl in the title role, LORE is a penetrating study of guilt, blind obedience and forgiveness.
Check out the trailer for Shortland’s beautiful pic down below.