Autism Through Cinema

Vision (2009) dir. Margerethe Von Trotta

February 25, 2022

The 12th Century polymath abbess Saint Hildegard von Bingen is the subject of our film this week via Margerethe von Trotta's compelling historical drama Vision. We're joined again by special guest Gemma Williams for whom Hildegard von Bingen has been something of an 'autistic special interest' for a while. We consider the themes of feeling othered and outcast, but also the strength those positions give for the forging of an individual path. We're careful to not retrospectively diagnose Hildegard as autistic, but reflect on the importance of identifying historical figures who may have been neurodivergent for the project of neurodiversity in the present day. Hildegard is a quietly revolutionary figure who stands up against the stringent rules of her day, and subsequently becomes a figurehead for the similarly neurodivergent seeking a place in the world. Following this idea, we soon identified another neurodivergent candidate in the film in the form of Hildegard's obsessive follower, Sister Richardis.

A shout-out as well to the musicians Lingua Ignota and Hildegard von Blingin' who we think our listeners might enjoy following this discussion! In today's episode you heard Dr Gemma Williams, John-James Laidlow, Ethan Lyon, and Dr David Hartley.

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