On the whole, film editing can hide mistakes, enhance relatively poor acting via cutaways and alter our perception of time. By contrast, the long take removes the editor except for the start and closing of a shot. Thus, a tremendous responsibility falls upon the cameraman.
From Orson Welles to Alfred Hitchcock, the greatest filmmakers have adopted the one-take method. Yet few have achieved the maximum result i.e. making an entire picture in a single breath. When critics talk about a significant moment in the artform, the effect can be short-lived. Those initial reactions might not grasp the larger picture. However, if durability ever gets called into question regarding Victoria, I will be surprised.
The achievement wrought by director Sebastian Schipper makes the most out of economy. As such, he has put forth the most dynamic, first person narrative of the modern age. Talk about elaborate, the pre-lighting on this must have been a headache. Therefore, I applaud cinematographer Sturla Brandth Grøvlen. He has practiced his art and mastered his craft.
Above all, I felt connected to the characters in Victoria because they felt like people from the street. Also, Schipper’s experimental approach validates the first person narrative. To describe the plot might incur a spoiler minefield. Crucially, actors Laia Costa, Frederick Lau and Franz Rogowski deliver top of the line performances.
Those averse to shaky, handheld camerawork and strobe lighting effects (only once!) might complain. However, the director has taken the plunge, paying off on situations which enhance the drama. Elsewhere, reactions create maximum play for cause and effect. Imagine a conversation where you observe two people talking. Your eye darts back and forth between the speakers. By allowing this to happen, Schipper reinforces the storytelling perspective, while making the progression feel seamless.
Why does Victoria triumph where Rope, Russian Ark and Birdman failed to disguise such pretensions? It’s all about the lens which Grøvlen wields smartly and precisely.
In summary, Victoria forms a time capsule which every producer should pin to their wall for reference. By reminding artists to think outside the box and not fall back on editing maxims such as “fix it in post,” a wonderful event has occurred. Now the morality tale can be viewed in a fresh mode.
Overall, I eagerly await what the future holds for Victoria as more people familiarize themselves with this landmark production.
(Released by Adopt Films. Not rated by MPAA.)