Is it ever acceptable to sympathise with a perpetrator? 

By Kathleen Sargeant

 

Lore, a 2012 film adaptation of Rachel Seiffert’s 2001 novel The Dark Room, brings this uncomfortable question sharply into focus, in a story that centres on the journey across Germany of five siblings, left destitute after the imprisonment of their parents, influential Nazis. Lore, adapted by Robin Mukherjee and Cate Shortland, takes place at the close of war, as Germany is carved up by the Allies, and the five children are forced to flee to their grandmother’s home in Hamburg. They are led by the eponymous Hannelore, played to perfection by Saskia Rosendahl. The film is entirely made of stark contrasts; the dreamlike quality of open fields marred by the vivid image of ants in open wounds, children’s photographs reflecting the flames destroying evidence of Hitler’s Aktion T-4 euthanasia programme. Lore comes to no ultimate conclusion on the guilt or innocence of its juvenile protagonists; we are continuously reminded that these are the children of Nazis, and yet there are numerous moments in which they are simply children, displaced and endangered by a war that adults have made. The film certainly makes for troubling viewing at times, but the beauty of its photography and the talent of its cast cannot be denied.