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also known as Aus dem Leben der Hildegard von Bingen

Vision2009

  • 3.9
  • passes the bechdel test
Hildegard von Bingen was truly a woman ahead of her time. A visionary in every sense of the word, this famed 12th-century 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 reunites with recurrent star Barbara Sukowa to bring the story of this extraordinary woman to life. In a staggering performance, Sukowa portrays von Bingen's fierce determination to expand the responsibilities of women within the order, even as she fends off outrage from some in the Church over the visions she claims to receive from God. Lushly shot in the original medieval cloisters of the fairytale-like German countryside, 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, change and enlightenment.

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"...offers a hard-headed view of 12th-century religiosity in which church politics and money conflict with the characters’ asceticism." - Stephen Holden, New York Times


Member Reviews (10)

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top reviewer

A life of Hildegarde von Bingen, a Catholic nun, mystic, and pioneering musician of medieval Germany. The film opens with Hildegarde as a child awaiting the end of the world along with her community, as was expected would happen when the first millenium came to a close. This type of top-down groupthink is contrasted in the film with Hildegarde's own life path, in particular her trust in the truth of her own mystical visions of the "living light of God." As you might imagine, she meets with some opposition along the way.

The film shuns typical Hollywood style biopic arcs in favor of a more episodic approach to the course of Hildegarde's life. So you don't feel a "plot" per se, but the stage for some conflicts is set early on and fulfilled later in the film. Anyone who has an interest in spiritual biography and/or the history of medieval Europe will be drawn in. You won't get criticism (or praise) of organized religion or monastic celibacy from this movie, and I'm glad the filmmakers chose to leave their personal opinions about those subjects at the door so to speak.

The actors are uniformly excellent. Sukowa is a powerful presence and I was pleased to see from the final credits that she sang her own part in the musical bits. Heino Firch is a welcome friendly male presence (not too many of those in this film) as the priest to von Bingen's community (in effect von Bingen's "work husband"!) Hannah Herzsprung plays a memorable role as von Bingen's protegee.

I don't want to say much more about how the story unfolds other than that I wish the filmmakers had focused more on the joyful and mystical (interior) aspects of von Bingen's life and work instead of her (exterior) worldly struggles. If you're at all familiar with von Bingen's music you know how unique and stirring it is. You'll hear some of it in the film; I wish I'd heard more. So I gave this film three stars instead of four.

2 members like this review

It always has amazed me that it took Man so long to climb out of his ignorance disenthrall from the myths of religion. Most of the world is still locked into this self destructive insanity. The film depicts it well.

2 members like this review
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top reviewer

Fine, worthwhile film. I wished for more of and on her music, her contributions to botanical healing, her spiritual writings; but I didn't make the film, and the people who did chose differently and did well.

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top reviewer

I'm not a believer it amazes me that people do _but this was then so it makes more sense_my favorite characters are Richardis (pure of heart) & Volmar (the same) the 'father' evil from the start_ i love Hildegard's music & she was indeed brilliant _but maybe ego driven especially when Richardis left she failed then she should have shown love & joy not bitterness & greed_but that's life_really interesting film_i also loved the young sister who was moved by earthly love & momentary passion_ a beautiful person

Beautiful film. well done and performed. edition is perfect and music, sublime.

I have read a number of books of and on Saint Hildegard. This movie is an excellent modern interpretation of her biography. Sukowa plays extremely well. Lights are well done. One can feel the religious sentiment.

not pithy enough

Good acting.

This German language film is excellent. A biography of a now well known visionary nun who helped bring the Dark ages into the Middle Ages, it is superbly acted and directed. It is no hagiography but shows that all saints are human and struggle with passions , ego, emotions for purity of heart.

wonderful film