Lore (2012) film review
Lore (2012) is a film that is not only highly emotive, but that also raises unsettling questions. Lore (also the name of the main character) takes us into Germany in early May 1945, as the Allied forces conquer the country and divide it into four sectors. Lore’s family hastily packs its valuables as they abandon the large family estate; in the middle of the night, Lore’s father burns documents revealing his SS association with the euthanasia program. In the following days of emotional turmoil and confusion, Lore’s mother says to her: “Never forget who you are.” This line is incredibly unsettling for the modern viewer.
The film takes us into the world of children – the protagonist, Lore, is the oldest daughter of an SS officer and a faithful Nazi housewife. She, along with her four younger siblings, take refuge in the family’s summer home with their mother as an attempt to avoid arrest by the Allies. Later abandoned by their mother, Lore, who is possibly fourteen or fifteen years old, leads her siblings through the Black Forest in a miserable attempt to get to Hamburg, where their grandmother lives.
Whilst the film is based on a short story by Rachel Seiffert (Dark Room), it in itself holds a vision of what it may have been like to be a child at the end of the Second World War. Yet, there are certain aspects of the film that resonate with the two chapters of my thesis I’m currently working on. Lore provides a great starting point for discussing childhood in war, but it is also plagued by some of the issues with which I’m currently grappling.
As the main character, Lore seems very flat, until at the very end of the film when she breaks down from all the emotional and physical turmoil she has had to deal with. In this sense, the way she finally has to confront the emotions of the past is very real, and very daring. Yet, I still felt that Nazi child culture was missing throughout the film. We see her two younger brothers singing marching songs and playing with soldiers, and we witness Lore spouting racist comments at the Jewish boy who attempts to help them on their journey to Hamburg. Whilst these moments are used to depict Nazi ideology’s effect on the children, it didn’t feel deep or realistic enough.
Lore would have been old enough to have been a member of the Jungmädel (League of German Girls) for about four years at the beginning of the film, but she shows little sign of having been influenced by that organization. There are no reflections or instances of her saying, “I learned how to do this during a Jungmädel meeting/camp…”. Nor is there any sense of realism to the scenes in which five children traipse through the Black Forest without any actual survival skills, which Lore’s JM training would surely have given her.
It is this misconception, or even ‘mis-memory’, that is also found within the memoirs that I am currently studying. Cohort members of the Hitler Youth generation do not see the Nazi culture that surrounded them as a culture, or even if they did, it is not discussed. Everything around them simply ‘was’. I think this shows how much perceptions have changed over time of what is considered culture and what is not; for Nazi Germany, however, it also presents a real historical dilemma. If we legitimize Nazi Germany as a culture, we also could find vocabulary to legitimize the Holocaust as an offshoot of this culture. It’s very tricky, murky water.