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(aka "Kreuzweg" or "Chemin de croix")

 

directed by Dietrich Brüggemann
Germany/France 2014

 

Directed with the most assured restraint by Dietrich Brüggemann (RUN IF YOU CAN), STATIONS OF THE CROSS thoroughly mesmerizes not only in its combination of composition, camera movement, and the staging of actors, but in the naturalistic yet surprisingly nuanced performances and mounting inevitability of the tragic. Told in fourteen long take scenes alluding to images depicting Jesus on the day of his death, the film finds the faith of Maria (Lea van Acken) tested just a week before her Confirmation with the temptations and torments of a fourteen year old girl. A member of the fundamentalist Catholic Priestly Society of St. Paul (in place of the Society of St. Pius) who see themselves as "warriors of Christ" fighting to "preserve the Catholic Church in its true form" and sacrificing pleasures instead of goats to prove their devotion, Maria too easily assumes the blame for attentions wanted and unwanted and is all too easily bullied into conceding impure motivations she had not even considered for her already guilt-ridden actions. Her aspirations to sainthood and her wish to sacrifice her entire life to God so that her autistic little brother might speak are the sin of conceit, carnal desires for devout if not so conservative fellow student Christian (Moritz Knapp) must underlie her wish to participate in the choir of modern parish that sings jazz and soul, and even her wish for a simpler plainer confirmation dress or to sacrifice the pleasure she takes in viewing a beautiful landscape are taken as insolence by her hyper-critical mother (Franziska Weisz, DOG DAYS) who is no less frightening that CARRIE's mother even if she is not frothing at the mouth. In refusing to jog to "Satanic rhythms" in gym class, she inadvertently embodies for her classmates the arrogant conservative who demands religious tolerance while being intolerant of others. When she goes to confession, the benevolent-seeming but fervent and inflexible Father Weber (Florian Stetter, SOPHIE SCHOLL: THE FINAL DAYS) merely confirms that she must look inward for the causes of her torment. Becoming both weaker in body and will as confirmation nears, she may be bound for sainthood sooner than anyone had imagined.

Eric Cotenas

Poster

Theatrical Release: 10 July 2015 (USA)

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DVD Review: Film Movement - Region 1 - NTSC

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Review!

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Distribution

Film Movement

Region 1 - NTSC

Runtime 1:50:16
Video

2.39:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 6.8 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate

Audio German/French/Latin Dolby Digital 5.1; German/French/Latin Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo
Subtitles English, none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Film Movement

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 2.39:1

Edition Details:
� Audio Commentary by director Dietrich Brüggemann
� Theatrical Trailer (16:9;
� Bonus Short Film 'One Shot' by Dietrich Brüggemann (16:9; 4:24)
� Previews

DVD Release Date: November 3rd, 2015
Amaray

Chapters 12

 

 

 

Comments

Film Movement's mid-to-high bitrate progressive, anamorphic encode looks somewhat soft by design with overcast exteriors, low light interiors, and largely static compositions. The Dolby Digital 5.1 track (and 2.0 stereo downmix) is restrained and front-heavy, but surround activity is present to subtle degrees. Optional English subtitles are included but there is at least one instance where the subtitles disappear for a few lines which are translated on the closed captioning track.

Bruggemann contributes his first audio commentary and his first in English, providing context to the religious aspects (including the intent to explore the dual nature of faith in the cult-like branch of Catholicism) and intentionally excluding any erotic tension between the heroine and priest (not just because of the actress' age but also to suggest that her extreme devotion is not a side effect of any sort of crush). He discusses the casting, the rehearsal and shooting of these long sequences with laudits to the abilities of his performers, as well as the reliance on a small number of takes (when the director chose the "fastest" version of the opening take, the actor who delivered the virtual monologue expressed concern about how it would play subtitled). He also discusses his inspirations (including Roy Anderson's SONGS FROM THE SECOND FLOOR), as well as how he built upon his earlier experiment with the Dogme style of filmmaking and the shaky-cam aesthetic. Although he speaks at a rather breathless with an accent and tends to digress, Bruggemann's commentary is informative and engaging. Also included is the short film "One Shot" by Bruggemann, made amidst heated public debate about integration. Meant to be a "sarcastic little video", it went on to play at several festivals and win eleven awards.

  - Eric Cotenas

 


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DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

 

 

Distribution

Film Movement

Region 1 - NTSC

 



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