Monday, February 20, 2012

Vision - Aus dem Leben der Hildegard von Bingen (2009)

I took the bad habit of checking movie ratings on imdb. It can be interesting but also very misleading. Some very good movies don't really have such a fabulous rating there (in my opinion at least). Anyway all that to say that I wasn't expecting much from Vision (with a 6,6 rating on imdb) but I was pleasantly surprised.

The movie is the romanced biography of Hildegard Von Bingen, Benedictine abess in the 12th century. I already knew about her musical compositions, but not much about her life. She was a writer, an herborist, an expert in many scientific fields and she had a correspondance with some of the most influential people of her time. She was also having visions (some heavenly, some apocalyptic). Her reputation as a visionary gave her an important credibility with the church, but also with politicians. Historians now believe that she suffered from terrible migraines and the visions were the consequence of her affliction. She is now remembered for her beautiful musical compositions.

The movie is by Margarethe von Trotta, German feminist filmmaker. Obviously a lot of the movie is portrayed in a feminist point of view. A perspective that is very pertinent considering the place women had in the medieval society. The historical retelling of events is very interesting, and seems to be accurate from what I later read. And the main actress, Barbara Sukowa (known for her roles in Fassbinder movies) is very good. Of course there is the mandatory love story, probably fictional, taking place between Hildegard and her novice Richardis von Stade. Unfortunately we don't see much of Hildegarde's visions, it could have been a pretext for beautiful scenes. Instead, the movie is more centered on the historic storytelling of the life of the Abess. My biggest dissapointment is probably with the general atmosphere of the movie, everything seems very... clean, not like I imagine the middle ages.


  1. I've found that my favorite films often polarize critics---people either love them or hate them---so reviews must always be taken with a grain of salt. Hildegard was a fascinating individual, and her music is transcendent. Will definitely check out this movie!

  2. Critics are something very relative indeed. Anyway some movies that are now accepted as masterpieces had very bad critics when they were released.

    Vision is more of a historic movie. I had a lot of fun watching it but it could have been much more.

  3. A relationship between Hildegard and Richardis did exist, though the nature of it is lost to history. Hildegard's own words refer to her love for this nun.

    As far as the depiction of environment of the Middle Ages, we might presume that monasteries were cleaner than other areas, and the entire movie centers around a monastery.

    I have been studying Hildegard for ten years and am so happy to finally have this movie of her life.

    1. Thank you Joyce, I was curious to have the opinion of someone who knows more about this subject than I do, so I'm glad to have yours!

      It's true, the movie was centered entirely inside monasteries, and we don't see much of the life outside.