Directed By: Cate Shortland

Starring: Saskia Rosendahl, Kai-Peter Malina, Nele Trebs, and Ursina Lardi

In my review of Emperor, I wrote that I was tired of movies about World War II. I said that filmmakers had covered every aspect of the second Great War and that there was nothing more that could be done.  Honestly, I'm going to have to retract the second part of that statement.  There was one thing I had never fathomed I would see in a World War II movie, but it's here with Australian war drama Lore.  I never thought I'd see something about the "plight" of the Nazis and their families in a post-WWII Germany.  I was quite wrong.  Well I'll be damned.

The Führer is dead.  The war is lost. The Allied Forces are now occupying Nazi Germany and prosecuting Nazis for their abominable crimes against the Jews.  When their Mutti (mother, Ursina Lardi) and Vati (father, Hans-Jochen Wagner) are arrested by the Allied Forces, Hannalore "Lore" (Saskia Rosendahl) and her siblings are left with one hard choice, to journey to their Omi (grandmother, Eva-Maria Hagen) who lives in Hamburg.  To take care of her four younger siblings, Lore is left with a little bit of money, her mother's wedding ring, and some other worthless stuff.  Now, Lore must take her siblings 900 kilometers through hell on earth to get to their grandmother.

Lore is well-directed and well-acted.  It's a well-made film on the whole.  As well done as Lore is, I just can't get on board with this movie.  I will never sympathize with the Nazis.  I understand the hardships that the children and Hitler-loving Germans were facing at that time, and this was not right.  However, this is what happens when you kill six million people just because you view your people as a superior race.  You get invaded, and your world becomes a much more dangerous place.

While I am not necessarily delighted with the subject of Lore, I do appreciate what director Cate Shortland accomplishes here.  She depicts the challenges and hardships of living in an occupied nation in the most disgusting ways imaginable.  The film is littered with bloody, rotting carcasses.  Danger abounds everywhere from bloodthirsty soldiers to desperate, homeless Germans.  Most noticeably, Lore and her siblings look like death.  With black feet, black hands, and bug bites everywhere, these children travel through hell.

Beyond just depicting these hardships, Shortland goes a step further and deftly explores the complex psyche of the German people at this time.  Their leader, the Führer, is dead, but they still sing songs honoring him and proclaim "Hail Hitler!"  The peoples of the world hate them for their unspeakable crimes against the Jewish people, and they can't believe their comrades have done such heinous things.  Somehow, anti-Semitism persists, and the conquered German people still feel entitled to call Jews "filthy".  Most importantly, children and family members like Lore can't fathom that the people they know and love are the ones who committed these atrocities for Hitler.  They just can't believe it.  There’s a big difference between your nation doing something wrong and the people you know and love sinning.  All in all, there's a lot of denial here.  The Germans just aren't willing to accept the truth, and Shortland brings this mentality to the forefront in Lore.

The cast delivers some strong performances.  This is not an easy subject to bring to life, especially for children.  As the titular character Lore, Saskia Rosendahl gives a layered, emotional performance and shows off some impressive acting chops.  She equally embodies the strength that's required to endure hardships of this nature and the guilt from the sins she commits just to eat or have a place to sleep.  As Thomas, Kai-Peter Malina is a slippery fellow.  His agenda is not what it seems, and Malina skillfully gives his character an aura of mystery to shroud whatever his agenda is.

As much as I cannot sympathize with the protagonists of this film, I do appreciate that Lore is a bold piece of filmmaking on a less explored aspect of World War II.  Admittedly, I don't think any filmmaker could have done a better job to get their audience to sympathize with Nazis given the historical context. Many like me will never fully connect with this subject.  Lore gets a strong 0.06% rating.  Have a few glasses of Sauvignon Blanc with this one.