Post Published on March 17, 2012.
Last Updated on April 28, 2016 by davemackey.
Today I watched one of those movies that I kept thinking, “I should watch that” but never quite felt in the mood. A foreign-language (German) biographical drama about a twelfth century nun, Hildegard von Bingen, it is one of those dramas that looks good but one wonders if it will be just another boring epic that drags on and on.
Happily, it was not such a dry and boring and epic and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I always enjoy biographical movies which inspire me an interest in the individual about whom the movie concerns. I find these films are useful both in arousing interest in myself and in others. How do we get someone to care about Martin Luther? Perhaps by showing them the film Luther. About Gandhi? Perhaps with the movie of the same name. Of Hildegard von Bingen? Perhaps with the film Vision.
Hildegard is not your run-of-the-mill medieval nun. Rather she experienced visions from God (whether true or false), was extremely intelligent, wrote on many topics including the sciences, was politically adept, and became a significant figure in a male-dominated society.
I didn’t find any ready articles addressing how historically accurate the film was – but the film was fascinating enough to elicit in me an interest to learn more about Hildegard…I think you will find it similarly fascinating.
But the film doesn’t rest solely upon the laurels of the story alone and its interaction with history. It is a visually lush film that depicts medieval architecture, clothing, and customs beautifully. At the same time, it avoids profanity, sex scenes, and while including some brief scenes around suffering, violence, suicide, and self-mutilation – these are not dwelt upon nor mined for perverse pleasure.
The film was written and directed by Margarethe von Trotta and stars several talented actors including Barbara Sukowa (Hildegard), Heino Ferch (Volmar), and Hannah Herzsprung (Richardis).
It is currently available for free streaming on Netflix.