DIR: Sebastian Schipper • WRI: Olivia Neergaard-Holm, Sebastian Schipper, Eike Frederik Schulz • PRO: Sarah Green, Brian Kavanaugh-Jones • DOP: Sturla Brandth Grovlen • ED: Olivia Neergaard-Holm • DES: Uli Friedrichs • MUS: Nils Frahm • CAST: Laia Costa, Frederick Lau, Franz Rogowski
Victoria is a film with no breaking point, yet it somehow manages to have a three-act structure and a profound character arc. Susan Sontag in her seminal essay ‘Against Interpretation’ posits that the ability to see, hear and feel should surpass interpretation in terms of cinematic experience. Sebastian Schipper and his cinematographer Surla Brandth Grovlen come close to achieving this ideal in their new film which is made up of one 138-minute long continuous take. The film follows its titular character (Costa) during the small hours of a life-altering night. Her fate is changed by an encounter with a group of men in an underground Berlin night-club.
Victoria is a breath-taking technical feat, matched with thrilling narrative content. Andre Bazin theorised that the long take is a superior mode of filmmaking because it recognises that space and time exists. Victoria accomplishes extraordinary verisimilitude. At first it captures the madness and freedom of a crazy night-out. Following on Victoria manages seamless yet striking tonal shifts in real time. It demands audience involvement. We are not especially led to focus on anything as we would in a conventionally edited production. Although in some circumstances Grovlen’s camera does persuade and in some instances seems to take the perspective of Victoria.
In some ways Victoria looks to be influenced by Gaspar Noe’s Enter the Void (2009). However, where Noe’s intent is metaphysical, Schipper’s raison d’etre is purely phenomenological. Long-take filmmaking is held in high regard, with many of cinemas greatest filmmakers including it as an aspect of their films. Most recently Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu created the illusion of such in his surrealist Oscar-winner Birdman, or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014). The same goes for master filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock. Technology prevented him from making Rope (1948) a continuous take. Hitchcock used hidden cuts to give the appearance of real time. Victoria is not the first film to be made in one continuous shot, Alexander Sokurov’s Russian Ark (2002), made as almost a counterpoint to Sergi Eisenstein’s October (1927), will forever hold that title. However, in terms of this type of filmmaking and its relationship with narrative, Victoria seems like a significant landmark in cinema history.
15A (See IFCO for details)
Victoria is released 1st April 2016