Now where do I begin? The stunning visual storytelling of Australian director Cate Shortland, or the graceful camerawork of Adam Arkapaw, or the beautifully humane performance of Saskia Rosendahl, and let’s not forget Max Richter’s haunting soundtrack. I watched this feature when I was fifteen without any prior knowledge of it, or all the beauty, love, and humanity it entails. It was the most spellbinding film I’ve ever seen at the time, and no matter how many incredible classic films, or huge blockbusters I watch, Lore will always remain this unparalleled work of art that will undoubtedly surpass them all.
The story is set in 1945, after the fall of Nazi Germany; five siblings brought up by Nazi parents are forced to face the physical and psychological aftermath of the war after their parents’ arrest, as they are forced to travel across Germany to find their grandmother. Their journey, which spans the entire length of the country, paints a much more chaotic and depressing picture of the Allied victory of WW2. Lore is simply a coming of age tale, similar in its setting to Empire of the Sun and Hope and Glory, only this time it is told from the losing side. As the siblings’ journey continues, the oldest of the children struggles to reconcile her Nazi core beliefs with the ever-changing world around her, and as the children are eventually steered to depend on a stranger they met on the road whom Lore believes is a Jew, her struggles become much more psychologically exhausting.
The film offers a tenderly humane look at a certain part of history often overlooked. It’s very hard to discuss this film without having any political arguments, or falling into a pitch black dark hole of what is and what is not politically correct, but the truth is this film is not about the politics, and dwelling on its righteousness will only prevent its viewer from seeing the greater picture. Director Cate Shortland elevates her characters from being simply pawns either on that side or the other, the time she chose for her film is one of great disarray and confusion, a time where political parties proved nugatory, and the only things deemed valuable where survival and clinging to one’s sanity.
I remember quite vividly how Lore made me realize there was so much more to films than simply the story. It was Adam Arkapaw’s enchanting cinematography; the outstanding frame composition, the unforgettable cropped close-ups, the tasteful slow motion segments, and the slightly shifting color palette that tends to emphasize its characters’ state of being. It was all so magical to me when I first saw it, and it remains as such today. The cinematography of this film alone secured its place as my all-time favorite, but I believe it’s only fair to commend the impeccable sound design and editing of the film, which meticulously conveyed the distress and despair of Lore and her surroundings. With the addition of the mesmerizing soundtrack which I cited once above, Lore remains this irreplaceable film that introduced me to the world of cinema.