Saturday, November 27, 2010

Film Review: Vision (2009)

Happily, rushing to a last-day screening of "Vision" (2009, German, ca 110 mins) at Laemmle's Royal, proved overall worthy of the trouble.

The film, directed by Margarethe von Trotta, and featuring a serene Barbara Sukowa in the title role, is a respectful, if a slow-motion take on the life of the Mediaeval nun and composer, Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179). I had heard some of her chants in the late 1990's, and I had found them rather soothing. But this film has focused less on her music, and more on Hildegard's visions, writings, message of love, and her quest to reclaim the dignity of women in a male-dominated society. In some ways, this Vision's Hildegard comes across almost as a proto-feminist within a patriarchal world.

The glossy lighting and cinematography of Axel Block has done ample justice to the film's beautiful scenic design, locations, and costumes, as well as to the often attractive features of the leading cast. However, given that Hildegard was one of the earliest (female) composers with a recorded legacy, one would have naturally expected more of the score, composed by Christian Heyne. In general,  however, the image and the soundtrack do succeed in conveying a tangible sense of the period, and an understanding of its culturally and temporally distant characters.

Marginally, it might be a fact of particular interest to Persian movie-lovers, that Ms. Hengameh Panahi, clearly of Iranian origin, is credited in the coveted role of the "executive producer" of the film.

November 25, 2010, Los Angeles
© 2010, Payman Akhlaghi. All rights reserved.

(*) Payman Akhlaghi is an Iranian American composer, pianist and piano teacher, covering the greater los angeles area. He's currently working on his dissertation toward the degree of PhD in Composition (Music). For appointments and further information, please call (310) 208-2927. (ALT: Peyman Akhlaghi, پیمان اخلاقی)

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