Flick Pick: Vision

The fifth collaboration of director Margarethe Von Trotta and actress Barbara Sukowa, Vision continues the proto-feminist canonization of Blessed Hildegard von Bingen (Sukowa), twelfth-century Benedictine magistra, scientist, visionary composer and literal receptor of visions. Cloistered at age eight, Hildegard grows into hardball politicking in the Holy Roman Empire as a celebrity seer, handling Frederick I and the Bishop of Mainz while maneuvering to break away from fraternal repression and form an independent, all-female monastery with right-hand assistant Richardis (Hannah Herzsprung). A bustling figure among ancient gray colonnades when not ill to extreme unction, Hildegard is presented as prophet of a more modern and less gloomy faith, rejecting mortification and calcified prejudices, and so meeting with tut-tut disapproval from catacomb-faced church elders. None of those formulaic clashes equals the impact of Hildegard undressing the corpse of her beloved prioress, appalled at finding a spiked girdle buried in her rotten flesh — a revulsion that has more to do with the film's liberal-humanist view of the Dark Ages as ripe for reform than with Hildegard's stated beliefs (she was no crusader against flagellation). Vision is more immediate and immersive when dealing in the jealous attachments among sisters; when circumstance and politics tear Richardis from Hildegard, Sukowa's performance rears to towering heights of abjection.
Dec. 3-9, 2010
KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Nick Pinkerton
Contact: Nick Pinkerton