Germany-Australia-UK 2012. Dir: Cate Shortland, Scr: Cate Shortland, Robin Mukherjee
At the end of World War Two, after her mother and senior Nazi officer father are imprisoned by the Allies, teenage Lore and her four younger siblings, including new-born, set off on foot from Belarus across a devastated Germany towards their grandmother’s house in Hamburg. In the villages, fields and forests we feel a constant threat and, with a moral framework no longer in place, Lore has to make her own decisions and develop her own rules. She knows nothing but the beliefs of her parents, “Remember what you are”, and the arrival of a jewish boy, with more experience and cunning in the art of survival, adds some symbiotic solidity to the larger group but creates more ambiguity and conflict in Lore’s feelings and actions.
Always a story about Lore’s personal journey and about the children, the weight of history is taken sensitively from their shoulders. The two small boys view shocking scenes with curiosity, but little understanding. The film is shot poetically by Adam Arkapaw, who pulls us in with an impressionist, grainy 40’s quality in several sequences and reminds us how hardship and terror often exist with the rich beauty of nature as a backdrop. Saskia Rosendahl is stunning as Lore and the music of Max Richter perfects the overall balance. An intelligent, moving and completely absorbing film.
Also by Cate Shortland: