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Originally published Thursday, March 7, 2013 at 3:01 PM

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‘Lore’: Children of Nazis have their eyes opened in WWII drama

A movie review of “Lore,” a somewhat twisted coming-of-age story about the children of Nazi war criminals who discover what really happened before and during World War II.

San Francisco Chronicle

Movie Review 3 stars

“Lore,” with Saskia Rosendahl, Kai Malina. Directed by Cate Shortland, from a screenplay by Shortland and Robin Mukherjee, based on a novel by Rachel Seiffert. 108 minutes. Not rated; for mature audiences. Harvard Exit, Lincoln Square.

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A German family is packing hurriedly to get away from the authorities. The children are bewildered. The parents are panicked, destroying any papers that might be taken the wrong way. Sounds like another movie about Jews escaping from the Nazis. Only in the case of “Lore,” the parents are the Nazis, and the war is winding down.

This somewhat twisted
coming-of-age story, directed by Cate Shortland, is a thoughtful, at times frustrating, look at the children of war criminals who not only journey to grandma’s house but discover what really happened before and during World War II. Full of surprises, the movie draws a thin line between pity and revulsion — how would you feel if you had discovered your whole life had been based on lies?

Lore (Saskia Rosendahl) takes on the responsibility for her four siblings, with the aid of a mysterious young Jewish man (Kai Malina) who becomes their protector as well. These children, now faced with starvation, illness, deception and danger, were used to idyllic circumstances, trusting their parents’ blind devotion to the führer. Their beliefs are such that they think the American liberators will torture children. When a voice from a loudspeaker shouts that shooting in the back is punishable by death, one realizes what morals were being taught to the youth of Germany.

Rosendahl brings a wonderful innocence and burgeoning sexual awakening to the role, while still evincing inner strength and complexity. In her unconscious attempts to regain her soul, Lore pays the ultimate price as she discovers the stink of who she and her family and her country had become.

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