Wednesday, April 10th, 2013


Most movies about World War 2 are either about the atrocities of the Holocaust, or how the brave Allied Forces defeated the Germans again.  This movie however is about neither.  In fact it turns it all somewhat upside down as it is about a young German family who have been abandoned by their Nazi parents after Hitler’s downfall and have to face the long perilous journey through a defeated Country in total chaos and now run by the Occupying Forces.

Lore at 14 years old is the oldest of the five siblings and takes charge as they set out penniless and without food from the Black Forest where they have been hiding out. Their destination is their Grandmother’s farm the other side of Hamburg but as the trains are no longer running in a near chaotic country that has all but ground to a halt, they set out on their long perilous journey by foot.  Trading the remains of their mother’s jewelry for any food wherever they can, Lore carefully tries to play up the fact that her youngest brother Peter is a mere baby hoping that the sympathy for his plight will persuade people more.

However everybody they encounter on their trek are not only in similar situations, but they are all so deeply consumed with the shock of their country’s loss and the death of their beloved Fuhrer. They may be totally defeated and completely destitute but without exception all the people Lore and her siblings come across still cling to the Nazi ideology even now :  one farmer’s wife staring at Hitler’s portrait incessantly wails ‘we broke his heart’.

Along the way the family meet Thomas a young man who after making eye contact with Lore, follows and then eventually joins them after rescuing the family from a potentially tricky encounter with some American soldiers.  Despite saving them, Lore turns on Thomas viciously when she discovers he is Jewish simply because that is part of the bigotry that she and her siblings have been so heavily indoctrinated in.
Along the way these young hungry children have to

pass the mutilated bodies of raped women and suicides with gaping head wounds … they (and we) are spared nothing of the ghastliness of the sheer brutality of war. And then at one point when they can go no further Thomas is also forced to resort to violence to save the family, which is possibly the breaking point for Lore who has undeniably some attraction to this young man even though she desperate loathes him. The relationship between this angry young woman and the mysterious Thomas who turns out not to be Jewish at all is a hard one to fathom out.

Based from ‘The Dark Room’ an award-winning novel by Rachel Seiffert this provocative story (which I had been convinced had to be based on fact) was turned into a movie by Australian Director Cate Shortland.  Two interesting relevant facts about Ms. Shortland …. she is Jewish, and also doesn’t speak a word of German even though that is spoken throughout.  Breathtaking performance by newcomer Saskia Rosendahl as Lore which held the picture together quite magically.

There are parts in this movie that make you so angry you are tempted to walk out in disgust.  Particularly scenes such as when the family sit waiting for a train now they are running again, and the conversation from the crowd is about how they vehemently insist that all the pictures posted everywhere about the Holocaust are all fakes and totally made up of actors. ‘The Americans are such liars’.   It is not often when one can sit in a packed movie theater and there is complete and utter silent for every single second of the movie.  In this instance it is from a mixture of sheer horror and awe.


Now showing in an Art House near you and available from Amazon in May.

Posted by queerguru  at  02:42


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