Lore is a film by Australian director Cate Shortland. After working in television, she then came to critical attention with her 2004 feature film Somersault, starring Abbie Cornish. Lore is her first cinema effort since then. It’s a German language film set just after the end of World War II. The film offers a savage, unforgettably affecting view of Germany via the eyes of a 14-year-old girl, Lore, whose SS officer parents now face punishment for war crimes.
Lore now has to survive being both a child in need of protection, and the protector of her four siblings. The five of them have to travel hundreds of miles to their grandmother’s house near Hamburg.
Shortland’s greatest achievement here is her success in creating a post-Apocalyptic landscape that is not a fiction. The horror of how this limbo-like situation would have felt for these children is superbly evoked. Of course, it would be hard for us to understand the true terror they would have gone through, but Shortland’s film brings us a little closer to understanding.
Saskia Rosendahl is outstanding in the title role. She gives an honest and well-judged performance, and some credit must go to Shortland for getting such an impressive turn out of her. However, the biggest and most impressive star must be cinematographer Adam Arkapaw. His masterful decision to shoot using Super 16mm gives the film a wonderful, grainy look whilst retaining pin-sharp clarity. The executives at the BBC, who are currently implementing a ban on HD-commissioned 16mm material, should pay attention to this film and the superbly detailed transfer Artificial Eye has given it. 16mm stock gives movies a very special look when treated properly, and it would be a shame if the format died.
Lore is a fascinating picture that demands repeated viewings. Some may find its pacing slow and its subject matter depressing, but those who like rich, powerful cinema will treasure it.
Lore (2013), directed by Cate Shortland, is released on Blu-ray disc and DVD from Artificial Eye, Certificate 15.