What the Children Saw – ‘LORE’ and Generation War Child

'The Sideboard II', 2009, red Biro drawing by Jane Lee McCrackenThis triptych portrays memories of a small child at play in a sideboard, within the safety of ‘home’, before the onset of war. It was inspired by the girl in the red coat from the film ‘Schindler’s List’, 1993, Steven Spielberg, as she wanders through the Kraków Ghetto while it is being ‘cleared’’. The Artist uses her niece to model for this piece to highlight the indiscriminate nature of war and how it can affect ‘anyone’ and to provoke understanding of loss by seeing victims as individuals and not statistics.

‘The Sideboard II’, 2009, red Biro drawing by Jane Lee McCracken part of a “triptych (which) portrays memories of a small child at play using a sideboard, within the safety of ‘home’, before the onset of war… inspired by ‘the girl in the red coat’ from the film ‘Schindler’s List’, 1993, Steven Spielberg, as she wanders through the Kraków Ghetto while it is being ‘cleared’. This piece highlights the indiscriminate nature of war and how it can affect ‘anyone’ and provokes understanding of loss by seeing victims as individuals and not statistics.”

No child should see what generations of children growing up during war have seen or are seeing.  Their eyes are forced to soak up the bloody spillage engendered by the very generations who are supposed to guide them safely to adulthood.  ‘Collective guilt’ particularly after WWII often dictates a rule of silence leaving many children and young adults unable to express the horror they have witnessed.  Dealing inwardly with a recurring nightmare spawned from observing the grotesquery of war, can cause psychological catastrophe for many and a lifetime of suffering.

Saskia 'Lore', 2012

‘Lore’, Cate Shortland, 2012

‘Lore’, Cate Shortland’s 2012 film presents us not only with all of the above but ultimately shares a reality that has echoed down the years, ‘Only the dead have seen the end of war’, Plato

Lore and her siblings, 'Lore', Cate Shortland, 2012

‘Lore’, Cate Shortland, 2012

Through a fluttering curtained window into the cinematically exquisite trampled fairy tale of a fleeing Nazi family, teenage Lore turns her beautiful face towards the camera and commences the unravelling of her contorted mind of lies.  The chorally haunted forests of Schwarzwald provide the setting for an epic journey’s beginning, as Lore’s high ranking Nazi parents disappear into the forests deep in the American enclave, leaving their five children to find a way through the aftermath of WWII to Grandmother’s in Hamburg.  The extraorindary Saskia Rosendahl’s ‘Lore’ is forced to confront her Nazi indoctrination, anti-Semitism and hero-worshipping of her father whom she discovers to be a war criminal responsible for genocide; she witnesses the scaling denial of a nation, all whilst leading her young brothers, including baby Peter and her younger sister Liesel to safety.

'Lore',

Saskia Rosendahl’s ‘Lore’, Cate Shortland, 2012

Adam Arkapaw’s stunning cinematography often gentle and sun-blanched, has wisps of Gerhard Richter’s paintings flickering through it.  A motion parallel to Richter’s ‘Betty’, 1988 (Richter was himself a child during WWII) and homage to his blurred photo-paintings echo throughout the film especially in the sequence when Lore dances with her sister Liesel.

'Betty', 1988, Gerhard Richter

‘Betty’, Gerhard Richter, 1988

Many refugees experienced chance, often fleeting encounters with strangers who changed the course of their lives in the unwinding chaos of WWII Europe.  A Jewish concentration camp survivor, Kai Malina’s ‘Thomas’, covets Lore and eventually becomes the siblings guardian angel whilst Lore’s beliefs and body crumble in the rubble and decay of ‘Gomorrah’. The greatest achievement of this impressive film, for there are many, is to communicate a picture of what discovering the unfolding horror show of war looks like, as if we too are there sharing the unearthing with the children.  This film gifts us within a closer proximity than others of its ilk, of trying to comprehend the aftershock of WWII.

Lore and her siblings, 'Lore', 2012

Lore and her siblings, ‘Lore’, 2012

It is often impossible to put into words something you have never seen or experienced yourself, but “A picture shows me at a glance what it takes dozens of pages of a book to expound”, Ivan Turgenev. Perhaps images more than words help us ‘the unexperienced fortunates’ gain any sort of understanding of what witnessing the horror of war actually means.

Detail of Julien Bryan's "Ten-year-old Polish girl Kazimiera Mika mourning the death of her sister, caused by strafing German aircraft, near Warsaw, Poland. 13 Sep 1939"

Detail of Julien Bryan’s “Ten-year-old Polish girl Kazimiera Mika mourning the death of her sister, caused by strafing German aircraft, near Warsaw, Poland. 13 Sep 1939”

For further information about ‘The Sideboard’ triptych, please visit my website

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