Maria (Lea Van Acken) is a schoolgirl whose family is a part of a very strict catholic church. In a misguided attempt to help her younger brother she decides to make a sacrifice to God. Her fanatical overbearing mother’s strictness is at odds with Maria’s burgeoning adolescence but Maria so desperately wants her mother to love her that is painful to watch her extreme attempts to win that love. Maria’s story is told through the 14 Stations of the Cross that Jesus passed through.
Director Dietrich Bruggemann shoots 14 scenes, each one take, one shot; apart from 3 scenes all with a static camera. The tableaus created are mesmerising. The composition of each shot is beautifully done with clever use of lighting in the first scene we can pick out our heroine from the group of children sat in a religious lesson. Some scenes are set so that actors move towards and away from the camera in order to get close ups, the camera changes focus, and people come in and out of shot all of which helps the film to stay interesting visually. One of the triumphs of the film is that Dietrich Bruggemann shows that you can make a film in this way and keep its vitality.
One consequence of this static camera is perhaps the film feeling a bit word heavy, editing cannot be used to evoke a mood or feeling so it has a very theatrical feel.
There is a mounting fear for our heroine as the story progresses (we all know how the story of Jesus ends don’t we?) but there are some moments of dark humour as well which help balance out the inevitable tragedy.
This is a fascinating film; not only from the point of view of the story and its commentary on religion, isolation and the frailties of human love but also from the self-set challenges that the filmmaker has overcome to bring it to the screen.