Rating: In German with sub-titles, this movie is good, but no easy walk in the cinematic park.
Obviously, history buffs know what happened to Hitler’s wife and the family of Joseph Goebbels when Germany fell in 1945. Hitler and Eva Braun shot themselves, and Goebbels and his loving wife poisoned themselves after being gracious enough to poison their children.
On the other hand, what happened to the immediate families of Herman Goring, Heinrich Himmler, Martin Bormann and others? Assuming they and other wretched Nazi leaders had children, how did the kids survive?
The movie Lore tries to answer that question as you follow the journey of Lore and her four siblings. She is a teenager, and is forced to begin a Lord of the Rings-type journey into darkness with a younger sister, two brothers under 10 years of age and a baby brother less than a year old. It seems that both of her parents were profound Nazi sympathizers, and they were forced to individually seek a path to safety to save their own lives.
As Lore leads the group on an odyssey through foreboding landscape as she seeks relatives in Hamburg, they soon are confronted by Allied troops seeking identification. Lacking any paperwork, she is saved when a young man identifies himself falsely as her brother, possessing identification describing himself as a former Jewish inmate of a concentration camp.
What follows is a daily effort to survive as they hunt for food and try to escape inquiry from Allied and Russian troops that she views with contempt. In addition, Lore has been taught to hate Jews, something that she makes no effort to hide.
The film forces the audience to confront an obvious conundrum. How do you root for a family who still bemoans the news of their beloved Fuhrer’s death? Though kids are kids by any definition, Lore’s racism is no different than that tragically displayed by a little boy hurling ugly taunts at Jackie Robinson from the stands in 42. How can you love them, much less hope that they survive, when they have been enormously poisoned by parents who towed the Nazi line to the very end?
Without giving anything away, the fate of the children, resting in the hands of their Jewish protector, grows increasingly ominous. Additionally, the young man, known as Thomas (Kai-Peter Malina), may be something other than what he seems. Whether he or the kids will survive takes you to an emotional edge that becomes heartbreaking.
When I saw the title of this movie, I was reminded of one of the greatest mini-series ever to appear on television, Lonesome Dove (1989). In the end of that remarkable adventure, Augustus “Gus” McCrae (played by Robert Duvall) was finally saying goodbye to Lorrie (Diane Ladd), the anguished young woman who loved him. As she stood outside the cabin she shared with Gus’ old flame Clara Allen (Angelica Huston), Gus climbed on to his horse, tipped his hat, and before galloping away looked at her and simply but passionately said, “Lorrie, darlin’.” What a powerful moment.
Ironically, Saskia Rosendahl as Lore has a lot in common with Diane Ladd’s Lorrie. The one was a home-schooled racist and the other a prostitute. They both were trying to find some meaning in an existence that had profoundly misled them. Life was no more pretty for them than it will prove to be for the viewing audience.