World War 2 has finally come to an end – it’s 1945 and families in Germany are trying to get their lives back together. Hannelore Dressler (played by Saskia Rosendahl) is 15 years old and lives with her family in Bavaria. Her father (by Hans-Jochen Wagner) is a German SS Officer and her mother cares for ‘Lore and her four younger siblings. One day, Lore see’s something is not quite right when her Vati suddenly arrives home and says they are moving. Truth is clearly not on their side when their father abandons them. Their Mutti (by Ursina Lardi) is left with the children, including Lore’s tiny baby brother. But soon she too must find safety elsewhere so she tells Lore she is going away for a few days, but if she doesn’t return they should go to live with their grandmother, Omi, in the Netherlands. Lore feeds and cares for the family as best she can while she awaits Mutti’s return. Starving and desperate, she realises they are on their own and their safety is up to her. Lore must look after herself, younger sister Liesel (by Nele Trebs), twin brothers Gunder (by André Frid) and Jürgen (by Mika Seidel) and baby Peter (by Nick Holaschke). They set out on foot for Omi’s home – a journey of hundreds of miles to the north, where she hopes they will be safe.
This is an extraordinary movie – the story itself is remarkable, but the production takes the entire piece to a whole new level. Never before have I seen such drama and graphic images on screen, presented so well and with exquisite timing. The cinematography is outstanding, the emotion from every character is excellent and all the children portray their characters with excellence. As ‘Lore, Saskia Rosendahl is outstanding – her timing, emotion and focus is marvellous. The desperation she feels is palpable and the viewer is taken right inside her head, sees what she sees, feels what she feels and has the same thoughts she does as she reasons out her next move as they encounter challenge after challenge in their difficult journey. Another character, Thomas (by Kai Malina), adds complexity to this story which is well done. I can’t speak highly enough about the images, drama and situations that are presented here – it’s just truly marvellous, totally provocative and yes … courageous. The piece is beautifully supported by the musical score. There is no surprise that Saskia Rosendahl won several awards for her performance (Stockholm Film Festival, Australian Directors Guild, Film Critics Circle of Australia), the cinematography was globally applauded (Hamptons International Film Festival, Stockholm Film Festival) and director Cate Shortland was deservedly awarded for the entire production (Hamburg Film Festival, Hamptons International Film Festival, Hessian Film Award, Locarno International Film Festival, Stockholm Film Festival,Tromsø International Film Festival, Australian Directors Guild, Australian Writers’ Guild, Bavarian Film Awards, Beijing Student Film Festival, Film Critics Circle of Australia, German Film Awards and Valladolid International Film Festival). The film was also nominated for Best Foreign Language film at the Academy Awards (Oscars). Excellent work, well done everyone.
Made in 2012. Directed by Cate Shortland.