Saturday, April 16, 2011

Vision: From the Life of Hildegard von Bingen

YouTube Video 

Review by Loci B. Lenar

Shannon Attaway, director of home media production at Zeitgeist Films has sent me a screeners copy of 'Vision' before its public debut in the USA. I am grateful for her kindness in supplying me with a copy of the movie.  Produced in Germany by Zeitgeist Films, Vision was originally released in 2009, but now is available to purchase in a DVD format with English subtitles for the U.S. market beginning on April 19th.

Not knowing what to expect from this attention-grabbing film, I sat down on my living room couch and watched the movie for the entire 110 minutes without flinching an eye.  My usual routine is to consume some snacks and drink beverages to counter my restlessness when watching TV or a movie.  However, I was totally absorbed in this fascinating film for the entire time!

Director Margarethe von Trotta has captured the spiritual journey of Hildegard von Bingen in an upfront and poignant film about the 12th-century Benedictine nun and mystic, portrayed with a powerful performance by actress Barbara Sukowa. The movie provides insight into Hildegard von Bingen's remarkable life including her straightforward approach and skill in challenging superiors to make changes as a result of her visions and messages that she said were from God.

Vision is categorically a thought provoking film of intensity with an impressionable account of Hildegard's Christian faith that a general audience will find interesting!

Image Courtesy of Zeitgeist Films

Zeitgeist Films: Vision - From the life of Hildegard von Bingen

Vision - Official U.S. Trailer

The following excerpts are courtesy of Zeitgeist Films:

About the Film:

Hildegard von Bingen was truly a woman ahead of her time. A visionary in every sense of the word, this famed Benedictine nun was a Christian mystic, composer, philosopher, playwright, poet, naturalist, scientist, physician, herbalist and ecological activist.

In Vision, New German Cinema auteur Margarethe von Trotta (Marianne and Juliane, Rosa Luxemburg, Rosenstrasse) reunites with recurrent star Barbara Sukowa (Zentropa, Berlin Alexanderplatz) to bring the story of this extraordinary woman to life. Sukowa portrays von Bingen’s fierce determination to expand the responsibilities of women within the order. Vision is a profoundly inspirational portrait of a woman who has emerged from the shadows of history as a forward-thinking and iconoclastic pioneer of faith and change.


A child of a wealthy German family, Hildegard is handed over to a Benedictine Monastery at the age of 8. Taught in the arts of herbal medicine, reading and writing by her mentor Jutta von Sponheim, she quickly excels in all. When Jutta dies, Hildegard is horrified by evidence of self-flagellation on her body and vows to change the ways of the order.

Hildegard becomes the abbess of the convent and by subtly using her intelligence and diplomacy begins to change the laws from the highest level. Since childhood she has had powerful visions that she records. Certain that these mystic perceptions are messages from God, she mentions them to her superior, without fear of the obvious scepticism and suspicion of heresy from the Christian order. The Pope grants her his support and allows her to publish the written accounts of her revelations. With this, Hildegard’s life takes a new turn. Allowed to build her own convent—the monastery of Saint Rupertsberg at Bingen—she invents a revolutionary and humanist approach to devotion.

About Hildegard

Born nearly 1000 years ago, Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179) remains a popular figure to this day. A polymath ahead of her time who was at once spiritual and practical, von Bingen challenged Church rules and founded two convents. She was a visionary and modern theologian who, at age 60, explained the lunar eclipse not as a divine occurrence, but rather from a scientific viewpoint. With a keen mind, von Bingen was someone who believed in a positive image of humanity. Centuries later, masters such as Dante and Leonardo di Vinci were inspired by her works. Hildegard von Bingen was one the most important inspirational and visionary female leaders of the Medieval age, responsible for bringing Europe out of the darkness and into the modern era of science and enlightenment. In 1233, Pope Gregor IX initiated the process of canonizing her but for formal reasons the canonization was never completed. Regardless, Hildegard von Bingen has continued to acquire an ever-expanding faction of admirers worldwide.

Read more: Zeitgeist Films

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