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 (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. 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.
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.