“Australian director Cate Shortland’s straightforward approach to the blinders worn by Hitler Youth creates a disconcerting and eerie film, made even more memorable since it’s seen through the prism of childhood’s end.”
– Joe Neumaier, New York Daily News
What a beautiful film this was. Eerie, Hansel and Gretel in the Black Forest. The visual analogies were certainly quite literal, normally a turn off for me (the reason I loathe Lars von Trier films, Melancholia in particular), but the story was so horrifically true to life. Making matters more interesting: seated next to me, a Jewish man, born behind the Iron Curtain in East Germany during the cold war. A person who has lived the tension between metabolizing recent history of holocaust: the need for Justice and Memory, and simultaneously the need to cope, nationally, with the horrors of your parents and grandparent’s wartime choices: the need to Forgive, or to Forget.
Watching these children survive, observing the inner and outer conflicts that “truth” creates, mesmerized me. As did Saskia Rosendahl’s luminous face. I loved the hatred and disdain she fell back on when most terrified. But only because it so reveals how these hatreds serve us, and bloom unbidden when we need them most. Or rather, least. I was impressed with the subtlety which which these actors portrayed the survival, the loss of innocence and denial for some Germans, and for others, the need to cling to that very denial, in order to survive. This film is a beautiful and tragic testament to the human need to retell a story until we make sense of it, often shaping and reshaping reality to suit our own needs. Lore. Wonderful, terrible double entendre.