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Vision: From the Life Of Hildegard von Bingen

Reviewed by Medusa

This historical biopic about Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179), Benedictine nun, visionary, composer, poet, healer, herbalist, and nature-lover, opens with a scene in a church at the close of the first millennium. Expecting the world to end at midnight, some people flagellate themselves, others pray. Eventually they fall asleep. The next morning a girl about 5-years-old and a teenage boy are first to awaken. As the little girl watches in wonder, the boy goes to the church door, opens it, and glories in the bright sunshine. The scene shifts to a blonde girl of about 8 being taken to a cloister where she is expected to eventually become a nun. This is young Hildegard (Stella Hozapfel), one of ten children in a weathy family, whose childhood has been marked by illness, once so severe that she had to stay in bed for a year. After Hildegard’s family leaves the cloister the nuns inhabit under the supervision of Benedictine monks, the Magistra, Jutta von Sponheim (Mareile Blendl) tells her, “I’ll be your mother now. You can trust me.” Hildegard rooms with another girl her age, also with the first name Jutta, and they becomes close friends. They are dismayed by another instance they witness of self-flagellation, a common practice among the Benedictines. The film then jumps forward 30 years. The Magistra is dying and asks all the nuns to leave the room except Hildegard (Barbara Sukowa). She asks for and receives from Hildegard a “farewell kiss.” Hildegard and her friend Jutta (Lena Stolze) have the responsibility of preparing von Sponheim’s body for burial and discover that under her habit, she has been wearing a belt that appears to be of sharp metal. They remove the belt and are appalled by the practice that has left caked blood and scars on her skin. The monks inform the nuns that Von Sponheim’s wish was that Hildegard be the new Magistra. Jutta is jealous that the Magistra preferred Hildegard over her. The monks are ready to carry out the Magistra’s will and appoint Hildegard. But Hildegard asks that instead the nuns vote on whether they want her in this high position. They vote by dropping either a white (yes) or black (no) ball into a box. All but one ball is white and she is elected. Thrilled by her election, all the nuns but one happily kneel around Hildegard. Jutta remains standing in the background.

Read the original article at: Medusa Coils

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