Distinctively cold and austere, Stations of the Cross follows the path of Maria (Lea van Acken) on her path to martyrdom as she battles with family dysfunction, her dedication to God and a sick brother all wrapped up with teenage angst.
Presented in 14 static shots as rigid as the orthodoxy it portrays, this is a penetrating examination of fundamental dogma in modern Germany, but whilst child abuse, societal pressure and spiritual sacrifice dominate, Dietrich Bruggemann creates a natural warmth throughout. Stations of the Cross contains an unequalled level of realism delivered with a thumping emotional punch.
Whilst openly inviting us to question the force of dogma and its place in the modern world, Stations of the Cross does not ignore the pervasive effects of faith. Maria is stalwart in her faith and her dedication is as beautiful as her motivation for sacrifice. Far from presenting her faith as misguided and irrelevant, Stations of the Cross appears to accept the miraculous and its place in an ever changing world. As her journey to martyrdom progresses we’re treated to every aspect of fundamentalism; with the opening we’re given excitement and zeal as Maria prepares for confirmation, her restricted home life details the abuse she suffers whilst her relationship with au pair Bernadette (Lucie Aron) shows true love and compassion. Maria’s eventual death come suicide presents us with sacrifice and miracle in equal measure in a powerful scene has the strength to make you question your own convictions. Maria’s journey is shown to us as a repeat of the biblical stations of the cross, mapping Jesus’ last moments before crucifixion and is a perfect metaphor for this film. It is both miraculous in its circumstance and heart-breaking at its core.
Stations of the Cross is filled with spectacular performances. The static shots Bruggemann gives us puts their talents on show throughout leaving them nowhere to hide. Naturalism fills this film and there is not only a wide array of emotions but characters as well. The silence and irrelevance of the character known only as Vater (Father – played by Klaus Michael Kamp) is as powerful as the dominant performance of Franziska Weisz as Mutter (mother).
This really is a beautiful film. For those looking for a slower pace, make you look deep within yourself and truly tug the heartstrings , Stations of the Cross can hardly be bettered. The strength of German cinema is really on show with this film and based on this outing alone I am confident Bruggemann alongside his co-writer and wife Anna Bruggemann are set for great things as are many of its stars.
Stations of the Cross is now available on Blu-Ray and DVD through Arrow Films.
We hope you're enjoying BRWC. You should check us out on our social channels, subscribe to our newsletter, and tell your friends. BRWC is short for battleroyalewithcheese.