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Directed by Margarethe von Trotta
Starring: Barbara Sukowa, Heino Ferch, Lena Stolze, Paula Kalenberg

I was not familiar with the life and work of famed 12th century Benedictine nun Hildegard von Bingen. Well, that is until this movie. Zeitgeist Films is releasing Vision in theaters. Visit www.zeitgeistfilms.com for a complete list of dates and theaters.

The Movie

Vision tells the story of renowned 12th century Benedictine nun Hildegard von Bingen, who was a very intelligent and progressive woman for her time. She was able to start her own all female cloister during a time when men, both in the secular and non secular society, ruled everything.

The audience sees Hildegard enter the church at a young age and is told she is the “child bride” of an older man of the cloth. She is head strong, even at that young age, and fights to be her own person and not the mindless servant to the men in control.

Hildegard (Barbara Sukowa) grows up and still very headstrong. She is fiercely determined to increase the roles and responsibilities women could have within the Benedictine order.  She is able to manipulate the power structure and the individual egos of the men that are in control to her advantage.

She manages to make some close friends of her fellow nuns. While some were excited to see a woman taking chances and trying to change things, other nuns were either jealous or fearful of her strong presence.

Hildegard von Bingen was truly the renaissance woman of her time. Not only was she known for her accomplishments in the church, but she was also known as a Christian mystic, composer of music, philosopher, playwright, poet, physician, scientist and ecological activist of the 12th century.

The paragraph above kind of makes whatever miniscule accomplishment we all thought was pretty awesome today pale in comparison, doesn’t it?

The performance by Barbara Sukowa is flawless and powerful. If you are not familiar with her filmography, Barbara Sukowa began her career as the protégée of famed director Rainer Werner Fassbinder with his mini-series Berlin Alexanderplatz (1980) and the moody film drama  Lola (1981) in the title role. She has went on to star in many other films, including the work of the Margarethe von Trotta, director of Vision.

The setting of the film is absolutely beautiful as it is filmed in the original medieval cloisters in the German countryside. The cinematography by Axel Block is eye catching.

While there are many strengths to this film, it pace can seem a bit sluggish. Perhaps a tighter rein in the editing department might have helped the plodding feel to the film.

However, by the nature of the story itself, this is not going to be an edge or your seat or thrill a minute cinematic endeavor. So, if that is what you are looking for, look elsewhere. This is a very quiet and pensive story and the film is exactly matches that mood exactly.