What if you wake up one day and find that your parents who you idolize, believe to be righteous and good, and whom you have obeyed your entire life, are really vicious murderers? Lore, and it’s a beautiful name for the condition the poor girl has, is the idealized picture of Nazi Youth. Young, blond, obedient and slowly but surely awakening to this truth, as she simultaneously sees her young life coming apart at the seams. She is a privileged Aryan child, shattered by German defeat.
Lore is forced to lead her siblings across Germany to her grandmothers house in the Netherlands after her parents are arrested. She is helped by a mysterious but silent young man who may be the “Jew” she has been warned of her entire life but has never met face to face. There are all those stories of herds of German children, suddenly orphaned, wandering the countryside, reduced to eating grass to survive. This is that story made real. It is a very personal up close look at how one child is reduced from her superhuman status as the child of Aryan conquerers, to a desperate status where she is forced to do what ever it takes to survive. Her arrogance after an entire life of privilege built on the backs of the Holocaust victims is the only quality she brings to the challenge.
I admire the film makers, as they have done the impossible. They made Lore real and believable and simultaneously refuse to make her sympathetic or excusable. You finish the film with understanding, not compassion, and in this case, and it is rare for me to say this, it is the highest compliment I can pay. When Lore’s Grandmother corrects her manners after she reaches safety, Lore refuses to obey and devours like a feral animal the food on her plate. It is a ferocious sign of her understanding through degradation. Her disgust and rebellion against her Grandmother’s arrogance, is the knife which finally slices her own arrogance away.