Is This the Hildegard von Bingen Movie We’ve Been Waiting For?

Marilynne Robinson, the celebrated author of Gilead and Housekeeping, recently surprised her fans with an appearance on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show, where she discussed the premise of her new nonfiction work, Absence of Mind, about the ongoing “culture war” between science and religion.

And she dared to suggest that the two “sides” are not as separate as media hype would have us believe. The mainstream media, she said, overlooks a thriving dialogue among people like herself who have a healthy respect for, and curiosity about, both science and faith.

We need role models like her who challenge us to see beyond oversimplifications, to hear reason beyond the shouting. That’s why it’s a good time for the world to rediscover Hildegard von Bingen.

And here she is. The inspiring 12th-century Benedictine nun is the subject of a new film called Vision: From the Life of Hildegard von Bingen. Directed by the celebrated German filmmaker Margarethe von Trotta, it tells the dramatic story of a leader who lived a life of passions and disciplines that seem almost contradictory to a 21st-century mind.

If you’ve heard of Hildegard, you probably know her for the sacred music she composed. But she was also ahead of her time in her scientific inquiry. Her expertise in herbalism made her an effective healer. She was also a philosopher who wrote plays and poetry, and she helped the Benedictine nuns under her supervision gain more influence and responsibility within the church.

She deserves to be the subject of a great film. Is this that movie?

Read my review of Vision: From the Life of Hildegard von Bingen at the site for Seattle Pacific University’s Response magazine.

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About Jeffrey Overstreet

Jeffrey Overstreet has two passions: writing fiction, and celebrating art — music, cinema, photography, literature — through writing and teaching. He is the author of a “memoir of dangerous moviegoing” — Through a Screen Darkly. And his four-novel fantasy series, The Auralia Thread, which begins with Auralia's Colors, was published by Random House. He speaks at universities and conferences around the world about understanding art through eyes of faith. He is earning his MFA in Creative Writing at Seattle Pacific University, where he has worked for 11 years as an editor, writer, and communications project manager. His work has been recognized in The New Yorker, TIME, The Seattle Times, IMAGE, Ravi Zacharias International — and Christianity Today, where he served as a film journalist for more than a decade. He recently began a weekly column called "Listening Closer" for Christ and Pop Culture.