Monday, March 30, 2015

The Unruly Mystic

The Unruly Mystic - 65min - NR

I had the distinct privilege in being invited to a private screening of this documentary. It's hard for me to watch some documentaries. I find them to be filmed from their own perspective and not looking at the subject objectively. That is really not the case with this one. The focus of this film isn't the personal journey of the film maker it's about St. Hildegard of Bingen.

Michael Conti’s story is really the catalyst for the film. The film stands as an introduction to a nun from the 12th century who is one of the great minds of the church. She was an abbess who blended her faith in with her art, music and science. In her time, she founded two monasteries and wrote extensively on the healing power of stones and spices. A talented musician she wrote one of the oldest surviving morality plays. It was only recently (October 7th, 2012) that Pope Benedict XVI named her a Doctor of the Church.

Saint Hildegard Feast Day,
September 17, 2013 - Ebingen, Germany
The filmmaker talks to people who have been inspired by St. Hildegard. Their study of her work has ensured that her legacy will live on. This film focuses on these passionate people and brings her humanity to the 21 century. Listing to people explain who she was with affection gives people of today an introduction to a truly remarkable woman.

I grew up thinking that a Christian wouldn't be involved with healing with stones and the mystical world would be sinful. Hildegard was instructed by God to write down everything she knew about the natural world. She wrote two books on natural medicine and cures. She also illustrated her visions and collected them in the book Scivias. I took a look at them and they remind me of some of the mandala that the Tibetan monks create.

Interview with Sister Lydia
at the Hildegard Abbey, Ebingen Germany.
There is so much to learn about her that a single film can't contain all of how remarkable she was. Michael Conti weaves the conversations together to give us the outline of someone who from what we learn would have fit in nicely today. It's that sense of realness that makes her an interesting subject and draws people to her story.

It is really hard to translate one's personal inspirational moment to film and give it the appropriate weight and significance without overdoing and making it self-absorbed and ridiculous. Mr. Conti uses his experience as a framework for the more important introduction to the woman who has inspired him. He opens the door for the viewer to walk away wanting to know more about the Saint of Bingen and perhaps allow her to inspire more people who now know of her existence.

There is something magical about a person talking about their passion. Mr. Conti has brought together people who have a genuine affection for the Saint. I envy his connection with Saint Hildegard and I also thank him for introducing her to me.

If you will excuse me I have some reading to do.

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