Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) was a remarkable woman, a “first” in many fields. She produced major works of theology and visionary writings. She used the curative powers of natural objects for healing, and wrote treatises about natural history and medicinal uses of plants, animals, trees and stones. She is the first composer whose biography is known. She founded a vibrant convent, where her musical plays were performed.
Made to celebrate the 900th birthday of Hildegard von Bingen whom The New York Times has described as "Before the Renaissance, A Renaissance Woman," this documentary was shot at the major Hildegard sites: the tranquil ruins of the Disibodenberg; the flourishing present-day St. Hildegard Abbey; Trier (where Hildegard's visions were recognized by the Pope in 1148); 12th century Eberbach (an abbey that helped preserve the memory of Hildegard despite centuries of brutal wars), and Hildegard's beloved rivers, the tiny Nahe and the mighty Rhine with Roman ruins and lowering castles still lining its banks.
Scholars interviewed on camera about Hildegard's life and surprising times include Barbara Newman, authority on Hildegard's theology of the feminine; Monika Klaes, specialist on Hildegard's bold letters; Irmgard Müller, world expert on Hildegard's herbal and medical work; and Franz Staab, author of a biography of Hildegard based on newly discovered 12th-century manuscripts.
Rich in images drawn from the world's great collections held in Paris, Cambridge, Heidelberg, Lucca, Leiden, and Eibingen, the film contains some of the most beautiful work achieved in over a thousand years of monastic book illustration.
On the soundtrack are a number of Hildegard's more than seventy surviving songs, superbly sung by the noted group Sequentia and by the nuns of the St. Hildegard Abbey. We also see and hear a section of the world's first morality play as produced by the famed Folger Consort.
Directed by Jo Francis and John Fuegi. English language version narrated by Tara Hugo and David Bateson. Written by John Fuegi, Jo Francis, and Niels Pagh Andersen, Editor. Cinematography by Morten Bruus. Music by Hildegard of Bingen. Produced by Flare Productions (US) & Foreningen Casablanca (DK).
Winner of the Silver Documentary Award at the Philadelphia and Houston International Film Festivals.