Best Video Performance Space screens the 2009 Margarethe von Trotta-directed film “Vision: From the Life of Hildegard von Bingen” on Monday, Dec. 15. The screening begins at 7 PM and admission is $5. Elizabeth A. Dreyer, professor emerita of religious sudies at Fairfield University and an adjunct professor at Hartford Seminary, will present the film and lead the optional post-film discussion.
“Vision” presents the story of Hildegard von Bingen, a 12th century Christian mystic, Benedictine nun, composer, writer and scientist. A Renaissance person before the Renaissance.
As embodied here by the powerful presence of Barbara Sukowa, she was a considerable woman, and succeeded in gaining almost everything she desired, despite a church hierarchy controlled by men. From the age of 4, she reported visions of God, and as these continued, they gave her authority and won her followers. Indeed, although in a cloister, she was permitted to go on speaking journeys and became quite widely known.
“Vision” offers a hard-headed view of 12th-century religiosity in which church politics and money conflict with the characters’ asceticism. It portrays Hildegard as a passionate humanitarian and a lover of nature who is shocked and disgusted by the mortification of the flesh through rituals like self-flagellation and extreme fasting… The film meticulously ticks off Hildegard’s accomplishments. She composed Gregorian chants, fragments of which are heard in the film. She was a playwright whose lyrical drama, “Ordo Virtutum” is excerpted in a scene in which the nuns, as they were allowed to do on certain holidays, frolic in silk gowns and jewels. She was a scholar who amassed a library at a time when books were rare and difficult to obtain, and she was a practitioner of holistic medicine with advanced knowledge of herbal healing.
View the trailer:
Elizabeth A. Dreyer is the author or editor of nine books, including Making Semse of God: A Woman’s Perspective, and has written extensively on topics such as medieval theology and spirituality, women’s spirituality, and contemporary lay spirituality. Hildegard von Bingen is one of the subjects of Professor Dreyer’s most recent book, Accidental Theologians: Four Women Who Shaped Christianity.