Victoria is a ingenious low-budget German movie that has sparked a major buzz in the cinema world. In February, American director Spike Lee expressed his wonderment at how such a complex movie could be made in just one single take (at the press conference of Chi-Raq).
It took three attempts in order to get it right. The logistics were meticulously planned as the crew had to shoot in 22 different locations. There were no airbrushing and special effects, differently from the single-shot-look movie Birdman (Alejandro Iñárritu, 2014). The shooting started at 4:20 am because they wanted to get the sun rise in the end.
This is not the first time a director attempts this. The most acclaimed example is Russian Ark (Aleksandr Sokurov, 2002), which took seven months of rehearsal and 15 years to get the script ready. It was also in the third attempt that Sokurov finally got it right, due to sound problems in the first two. In 2007, Spiros Stathoulopoulos filmed PVC-I, a true story about a makeshift bomb placed around the neck of an extortion victim. And before that, in 1948 when digital technology was still a desire, Alfred Hitchcock did Rope with only 8 cuts. The British filmmaker edited the film so that the cuts seemed invisible to the audience.
None of this technological achievements would be praiseworthy if the films weren’t good enough. Victoria is jaw-dropping, a sublime and touching experience. Schipper knows all about it: “I made a film without cuts but that doesn’t really matter. Watching a film in the movie theatre is a highly emotional experience regardless of whether it has a lot of cuts or none.” The greatest achievement of Schipper when he decided for a single take was to give up control and trust the actors and crew. It is alluring to witness the joy of the main actors in scene. Laia Costa (Victoria) and Frederick Lau (Sonne) are incredibly charismatic and convincing.
Leaving a Berlin nightclub late one night, Victoria, a Spanish girl, meets Sonne and his friends. They convince her to join them in a different ride through Berlin, that includes stealing beer from an off-licence shop and enjoying the view of the city in a rooftop. But not all is joy. The bunch of German boys eventually forge a dangerous bond with Victoria. This circumstance raises questions about freedom, youth and greed, thereby transforming the movie into a gripping experience.
Victoria has similarities with Run Lola Run (Tom Tykwer, 1998). In this German thriller, a woman needs to obtain DM 100,000 in 20 minutes to save her boyfriend’s life. Tykwer explores the audience’s emotion to the limit: it feels like the viewer is running with Lola for two hours. In Victoria, pace is controlled and balanced. This is evident in the chase scenes, but in the nightclub scenes there is an extra layer of complexity, as viewers and characters listen to different music. The latter are clubbing while the former listen to chill-out music, in a soundtrack signed by Nils Frahm.
Music determines one of the emotionally profound moments of the film. Here the ‘Mephisto Waltz’ by Franz Liszt stresses Victoria’s biggest deception in life. Her confession comes quite out of the blue. She tells it to a complete stranger, and perhaps this is why it is easy and painful at the same time.
In short, Victoria is a reminder that in life its is necessary to be impulsive and to improvise. Even when everything is planned accurately – including the process of shooting a film – impromptu solutions can bring out beautiful results.
The film is showing in the best cinemas across Europe and the world now. You can also purchase the film for watching online by clicking here. Watch the trailer below: