Monday, March 04, 2013

Lore


Went to see the film Lore on Saturday, with daughter no 2 (who is enjoying being allowed to see age 15 films now). Philip French described it as 'not exactly profound', and I kind of know what he means - at times it feels as though it is grasping at something just underneath the waters, but not quite reaching it. But two days later I am still thinking and wondering. So it stays with you.

The film follows a teenage girl and her younger siblings as they attempt to walk to their grandmother's house near Hamburg, at the end of WW2. Their parents have fled, presumably imprisoned, for Nazi war crimes. Lore begins the film as an innocent; but events and her own piecing together of what she knows and what has been hidden gradually reveal to her the awful truth of Germany's recent past, and the part her parents played in that. Her own initial reactions to a young Jewish man they meet on the road betray her; she becomes complicit. Yet there is something of a child's sense of justice that also drives her, and her reactions become muddled, and difficult to predict.

The film has a langourous poetry about it. The cinematography is stunning, and takes its time. We are invited to suppose what is going on in Lore's mind as she contemplates the Jew; as she remembers her parents; as she gazes at images posted by the allies of concentration camp massacres. Saskia Rosendahl as Lore is believable and beautiful, emerging throughout the film from a cocooned child of the Third Reich to something altogether more complex and likeable. Her face carries the film, and it is her expression more than any other image that stayed with me. Interestingly she had no acting experience, but was a dancer; she brings this graceful quality, where each movement seems intentional.

Above all Lore takes its time. Not in an art-house, life-is-complicated, where-will-it-all-end kind of way; but in a manner that allows the watcher to worm their way into the thoughts and feelings of the characters, without ever totally betraying them. The scene where Lore looked and looked at the images posted by the allies, tracing her hands across them and eventually tearing one image down, switched to a close up of her fingertips - now tacky with the paste used to stick up the pictures. She plays with the glue, pulling the threads apart between thumb and forefinger; then tries to rid herself of the evidence, wiping her hands on her skirt fruitlessly. The childish fascination with all things icky and sticky gives way to a horror of all that has taken place, a horror in which her parents participated; and a desire to rid herself even of the memory , to distance herself from a stain that will not be easily wiped clean. This is the scene that replays in my mind.

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