Young German actress Saskia Rosendahl stars in Lore, Cate Shortland’s gripping film about Nazi children in post-war Germany. Rosendahl puts in a masterful performance, taking Lore organically from the spoiled daughter of a wealthy SS officer to a fierce warrior “mother” to her three siblings as they flee Allied forces and the horrors of the road. We spoke with Rosendahl about the film. Read our Q&A below.
You’ve done a film before, but in Lore, you are in every frame. Did you have any idea what to expect?
Saskia Rosendahl: I was so lucky to get a part in this project, working with Cate and with this whole cast and crew. I had no idea what it was going to be like, or the shooting or what comes afterwards. I was just thrown into this new experience and I’m really thankful.
It’s not often we see a film from the point of view of Nazi children after Hitler’s death. I’d never given it any thought.
SR: We learn a lot about this topic in school so we are used to talking about it, but not from that perspective. It was so new. My grandmother told me all about her upbringing and own experiences, but she was Catholic and had to flee and had to leave her house and dog behind. It was so different what she experienced.
Were you curious about people who would have been children at that time?
SR: I came into the project late so my preparation and research was based on watching documentaries about the BDM and what life was like for them during World War II and we sang songs and danced and Cate did a lot of research and I was talking to her a lot and my prep was just trying to feel this person.
When did you start to feel Lore’s confusion and emotion?
SR: We were lucky to have one week rehearsals before we started, just getting to know the other actors, how it feels to work with them. I was actually starting to feel the character after one or two weeks of shooting and it was good. We started with the opening scenes, when they have to pack their things and that was good because it was important for me to understand and develop the character and then get really into her for the difficult scenes.
How did you “feel” her?
SR: I felt it because I started not to notice anybody on set. I started to be really concentrated and focused. Cate started to ask me what I think she would do now and what I think she feels, stuff like that. So, yes, she made me feel like I knew her and that I can put my own ideas into her and develop a truthful character and story.
You shot mostly in the woods and in rivers in the cold late autumn. How difficult was it?
SR: It was really helpful to have the nature around me because I felt like I was part of it. But it was not easy because of all the bruises.
When did you see the film first?
SR: I saw the film at the Sydney Film Festival. It was too overwhelming. I felt that there were so many pictures and images in my head I feel I missed half of the film. I was sitting in the audience with thousands of people watching it for the first time and I was shaking all the time and my heart was beating so fast. Afterwards I had to go onstage and do the Q and A and the first question was “What do you think about the film?” And it was the hardest question, I couldn’t answer, I had to watch it again.
Is acting going to be your career?
SR: I just finished school and I have to find my way in life. Acting is a big part to find myself and get to know myself better. It’s so interesting and I don’t want to stop.
Lore is currently playing at the TIFF Bell Lightbx in Toronto.