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I have not read up on the production history, just found it initially somehow odd that “Lore” is an Australian-produced film directed by Aussie Cate Shortland, while looking like as German a film as you can get (I can only assume it has to do with grant schemes, tax loopholes and the like). Maybe even more so as the film takes the well-told story of the Allied forces closing in on Berlin from all sides, pushing back the German army, stirring hope in some of the citizens whose path they cross and fear, sometimes terror, in others. The end of World War II was a time of collapse and confusion in Germany, and “Lore” is very good at showing what this means in practice: not knowing where to go and how to get there, not knowing whether the next person you meet will feed, shelter, rape or kill you.

The titular girl does not only need to worry about her own fate, but having been abandoned by her parents and left with her siblings to take care of, she needs to pretend to be grown up enough to protect those little ones, as well. She is not a heroine, she is confused and frightened, she has no way of judging the intentions of the people around her, especially not as she has spent her life in a devoted Nazi family, and finds it hard to match the lessons her parents had taught her with the reality she is now thrown into on her quest to find the shelter of her grandmother’s home at the other end of the disintegrating country.

This quest is told in a dramatic, emotional, cruel, but almost always straightforward fashion, in a very (for lack of a better word) pleasant way the film does not (for lack of yet another better word) cinematize (i.e. over-dramatize) events. Stuff happens, people die, and you move on, because you have to. This is maybe the strength of the film and the key to its international success: that it maintains a casual position of observation, that it does not want to bring out the strings and trumpets to tell you when we are experiencing a sad or dramatic moment. Those many people lost in their previously own, now occupied country, with order breaking down and truths being turned on their heads, probably felt nothing more than lost and sad. And this maybe explains why bringing in a non-German filmmaker was a very good idea: she manages to assess the lives of these people with a fresh view, probably less burdened by the hundreds and thousands of hours of movie and tv footage on the topic the average German has been exposed to over time.

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