STATIONS OF THE CROSS (2014)
Directed by Dietrich Brüggemann
“STATIONS OF THE CROSS is in cinemas 28 November”
Award-winning film which won the Berlin Silver Bear for Best Script this year and the EIFF Student Jury Prize.
Brought up as a strict Catholic, 14 year old Maria decides to sacrifice herself to God in exchange for the Lord to grant her mute brother with the power of speech.
German language film STATIONS OF THE CROSS deals with life living as a strict fundamentalist Catholic and the effect it has on a family, seen from the perspective of a young girl. Essentially brainwashed at such a young age, Maria is raised in a certain way in which she yearns to break out of. Though her faith is everything to her, and to her parents, Maria yearns to fit in with her peers, look pretty, indulge and even sing soul and gospel music which her mother and priest strongly abhor due to its ‘demonic’ rhythms. Made to feel like a sinner for having ate too much at tea time or for feeling attracted to a boy at school, Maria becomes fixated on becoming a saint, a girl so pure and following the Lord’s teachings to the nth degree, even though her heart tells her otherwise.
STATIONS OF THE CROSS highlights how religion can be the undoing of a person, especially when they force it upon their young children who are easily manipulated and brainwashed to the point it can damage them and those around them. The young girl in the movie takes these religious beliefs to the extreme, after being surrounded by her uber-strict fundamentalist Catholic mother and her similarly strict priest, who are constantly feeding their beliefs to the girl and contribute to Maria’s self-destruction and martyrdom.
The film is split into 14 chapters in reference to the title of the film. Each chapter, bar the last, is taken from a fixed angle and allows the scene to play out from a static position which really works well with the movie. The film opens with Maria and a group of children at Sunday school, where the priest is informing them of the upcoming confirmation and their duties as warriors for God once confirmed. Subsequent scenes portray Maria’s descent into a religious extremist, which alienates her from her school classmates and everyone else around her. Her goal to sacrifice herself to bless her brother is one that cannot be shaken off.
STATIONS OF THE CROSS is a powerful and emotional tale with a remarkable performance from Lea Van Acken as Maria, backed up by a strong cast including Franziska Weisz as Maria’s frighteningly stern mother. Uniquely presented, the hard-hitting drama is a revelation and highlights the power of religion and belief system when one is surrounded by it, particularly as a child within the family unit.