02/14/2013 12:31 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Popcorn Preview: Lore

Film: Lore (2012)
Cast includes: Saskia Rosendahl (Für Elise), Ursina Lardi (The White Ribbon), Kai-Peter Malina (The White Ribbon), Nele Trebs (Krupp: A Family Between War and Peace)
Writer/Director: Cate Shortland (Sumersault)
Genre: Drama | War (109 minutes) German with subtitles

Living in Germany's Black Forest, it's easy to forget there's a war going on. But when Lore and her younger sister Liesel are out playing in the woods, the black flakes of soot floating down are an unpleasant reminder. Back at the house, Mutti (Mother) and Vati (Father) are deciding what to take... "only what fits in the truck." In a bonfire, they burn all Vati's papers. Lore knows they're preparing for the "final victory," but they need to go into hiding for now. Vati leaves first... "to a camp, not a prison"... and Mutti leaves with the children. Lore is the oldest of 5, and Peter is only an infant. It isn't easy finding food, but some of the locals... "Heil Hitler"... are willing to share what they have. The news that the Führer is dead comes as quite a shock. When Mutti has to leave, she gives Lore all her money and jewelry and makes Lore promise that if she isn't back in 3 days, she'll get the children to Omi's (Grandmother's). Somehow, Lore knows Mutti isn't coming back.

Their journey takes them through the countryside, as they work their way toward the outskirts of Hamburg and Omi's house with blue windmills on the walls. Because they're not traveling through bombed-out cities, there are many scenes that are as beautiful as a picture postcard. But in this real-life dystopia, everything is off. The roads are littered with possessions that other travelers have had to leave behind. Still, other travelers look through those possessions, searching for items they can use. Americans and other foreign soldiers seem to be everywhere, and they've put up bulletin boards with photos of bodies in concentration camps. "They're just thin actors that Americans paid to pose for the pictures." They constantly come across bodies, especially women... many with wounds that make no sense to Lore. Better not to talk to anyone... but there's a young man that's been following them. When they get stopped for papers, it's the young man, Thomas, who shows his papers and convinces the guards that his "brothers and sisters" lost their papers in Buchenwald. It isn't believable, but there are so many with questionable papers that any story will do.

The others become fond of Thomas, but Lore knows what he is... a Jew. When the money and jewelry run out, Lore has to find other means of keeping everyone fed... especially the baby. As much as she needs Thomas's help, she knows he's the enemy, so the relationship is uneasy. The film does an excellent job of putting us in the place of a young teenager who finds herself in a world where none of the old rules apply. It's a slow process, trying to figure out what the new rules are... if there even are new rules. As beautiful as the countryside is, the sinister reality is always present... even if the truth is hard to work out. Lore tries to remain positive because she knows she must. "Before the victory, there is always pain."

3 popped kernels (Scale: 0-4)
At the end of WWII, a young girl has to lead her brothers and sisters across Germany to grandmother's

Popcorn Profile
Audience: Grown-ups
Distribution: Art house
Mood: Sober
Tempo: In no hurry
Visual Style: Nicely varnished realism
Character Development: Engaging
Language: True to life
Social Significance: Thought provoking

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You may want to read about other movies with related themes:

In Darkness

Enemy at the Gates

The Flat


The White Ribbon