Sunday, March 10, 2013

"Lore": a gentile girl and her siblings explore a wasteland: Germany under occupation after WWII


I don’t recall seeing a collaboration between Australian and German filmmakers before. “Lore” is such an effort, but it comes across as almost following the prototype of a situational horror movie, where survivors have to deal with moral paradoxes in a wasteland created by others.

It’s 1945, at the Allies have partitioned Germany.  Lore (Saskia Rodensahl) is expected to protect and lead her younger siblings through homelessness, barter, and scavenging as her Nazi parents take leave, expecting to be brought down by the new authorities. 
  
The journey is grimy and grungy.  Northern European spring has never looked so ugly in the forest.  Death and maiming are everywhere.  You see a baby with bedbugs, and a young woman with mangled legs.  You think of del Tor’s “Pan’s Labyrinth”.  Lore meets a young concentration camp survivor, apparently a Jewish man (Kai Malina) who seems likeable enough (and less scathed than he  would have been).  While she feels drawn to him, she has difficulty overcoming the bigotry that her parents had installed in her.
   
What would have been more interesting would have been a view of life “before” the fall to the Americans or Russians (they’re moving between zones).  What was life like for gentiles who believed in Nazi ideology and saw an economy booming, until the Allies brought destruction to their own homes?  There is also opportunity (barely hinted at in the script) to point at the divisions that Germany will take as it is split between western values and Communism.
  
The idea of a film about navigating a wasteland is certainly not new. In my own 1969 novel manuscript “The Proles” I have my self-generated characters exploring a world after all-out nuclear war set in the 1980s.  In Stephen King’s mammoth novel  (and TV miniseries in the 1990s) “The Stand”, the heroes explore an America destroyed by a plague.  You want to know how it all came about.
   
The official site is here, from Transmission Films in Australia.  The US distributor is Music Box Films, and the director is Cate Shortland. The film is based on a novel  ("the Dark Room") by Rachel Seiffert.

  
I saw this late Saturday night at the AMC Shirlington in Arlington in a large auditorium in front of a small audience. 

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