Drop what you’re doing and run to see Margarethe von Trotta‘s film about Hildegard von Bingen, Vision.
It’s a brilliant account of how a woman can manage to do her own thing under extremely adverse circumstances. There are so many things that haven’t changed for women since the 12th century, you’ll be thinking — but the film is fantastically positive, and doesn’t even end with death, as biopics always do, but with von Bingen’s another victory over illness and the birth of a slew of new plans for the future (pardon — ‘visions’).
Von Trotta has studied von Bingen closely, and every choice made in the film is based on some kind of historical record. No surprises here, von Trotta does the mad female bonding, female friendships and love, eroticism without sex and sex without physical contact brilliantly as always.
The most sensuous and playful sequence is the one where the sisters engage in a proto-opera! For the first time we see the main characters in silk gowns, with their hair revealed and decorated — Barbara Sukowa is a goddess, mein Gott — playing in von Bingen’s lyrical drama Ordo Virtutum. The Virtues fight and eventually win against the Devil for the protection of the Soul.
Here’s a fantastic interview on Medievalists.net with von Trotta about the making of the film and why von Bingen. The official films site is this. I’ve already rented three other von Trotta films which I haven’t seen, and I’m getting some Bingen music and books pronto. Believe it or not, this is THE feel-good-film-of-the-year.
Since von T is, in addition to being one of the most important film directors living, a gorgeous human being, a photo gallery for your perusal is HERE. The film is being screened at the TIFF Lightbox on King St — for screening times, consult the TIFF site. The film was first shown in Toronto during TIFF09.