Stations of the cross, from director Dietrich Brueggemann, is a bold film that only uses 14 scenes each lasting around 10 minutes, 11 of which are stationary. Each one of these scenes starts with a black screen, with one of the 14 Stations of the Cross in a small white text line. This movie takes a dramatic, somewhat humorous, and dark take on the fanatical base of fundamental Catholicism. Those enjoy picking apart the strict ways of the Roman Catholic church will enjoy this film.
The movie follows the main character Maria, as she lives her life living in a fundamental Catholic family. By using muted, still shots, the director is able to give off an eerie, and very serious feeling through the shots. Due to the fact that over 75% of the shots in this film have no camera movement at all, it is safe to say that the script, as well as the acting, is superb. As we watch the first scene of Maria sitting in on Father Weber’s class, we learn that each of these students are about to receive their first communion, and enter into their faith as an adult. We get a taste of what the kids are taught in this class. Things like, sex and immoral thoughts are sins, learning to resist temptation is good discipline, and that tantalizing and captivating rhythms are from Satan. The music portion of the lessen is repeated in numerous scenes throughout the film and adds a somewhat “silly” play on the teachings of the church.
In the next part of the film we get a glance into the family life of Maria. Her mother is very quickly portrayed as terribly aggressive, and unforgiving women. However, in the eyes of Maria, that is her mother and she should listen to her regardless of her feelings toward her. This controlling mother, mixed with the weak backbone of her complacent father, Maria is slowly torn apart between the strict ways of her families faith, and the common emotions of a teenager. As the movie progress, Maria grows more pale and weak looking, showing this “wear and tear” from her struggle.
Prior to the scene depicted above, Maria is invited by a male classmate to join him in his church’s choir group. When she learns that they sing jazz and gospel music (music from Satan) she declines his offer. In the scene of above, she changes her mind and asks her mother to join the group, lying to her and saying a female classmate asked her to tag along. Learning of the styles this group plays, her mother barrages Maria yet again with insults, yelling, and unforgivable insults. This eventually leads to Maria breaking down into tears, and proving as one of the turning points in the story.
Thinking that she would be abandoning her faith in several parts of the film, Maria refuses to dance to devilish rhythms, dance in gym class, talk to a boy, etc. In the end, Maria’s struggle consumes so much of her energy, that she eventually decides to stop eating. Knowing that she has confessed all of her sins, and is free of temptation, this 14-year-old main character decides to stop eating, killing herself, and go to live with Jesus. Making the death scene, and the burial scene in the film, two of the 3 shots with camera movement in them.
Besides sitting through the long, dark, and drawn out shots of Maria’s slow deterioration and death, this movie was fantastic. This movie is everything packaged into one: subtle humor, beautiful shots, wonderful script, dramatic and captivating story line, and fantastic acting. I would without a doubt, recommend anyone who enjoys picking apart films, go see this.
I give this film:
5 crosses out of 5