Switzerland, 1971: Nora is a young housewife and mother who lives with her husband, their two sons and her father-in-law in a little village. Here, in the Swiss countryside, little or nothing is felt of the huge social upheavals that the movement of May 1968 has caused. Nora's life, too, has been unaffected; she is a retiring, quiet person, well liked by everyone - until she begins to campaign publicly and pugnaciously for women's right to vote, an issue that will be put before the male voters on February 7th, 1971.
The Swiss film Die göttliche Ordnung was shown in the U.S. with the translated title, The Divine Order (2017). The movie was written and directed by Petra Biondina Volpe. The film stars Marie Leuenberger as Nora, a wife and mother living in a small Swiss rural city.
Nora would like to work outside the home, but for this she needs her husband's permission. Starting with this revelation, we quickly learn that the society is incredibly patriarchal. The key point is that women can't vote. So, they can't change the rules that keep them down because they don't have the political authority to bring about change.
This change only came about because of women's work outside the system, using every tactic they could think of to get the system changed. (It did change, as we know. What I didn't know is that the last voting restriction against women didn't fall until 1991!)
In a movie like this, the quality rises or falls based on the work of the protagonist. Leuenberger is a experienced professional actor. She was superb in this role, and that isn't only my opinion. She won the best actress award in an international feature at the Tribeca Film Festival in NYC for her work in The Divine Order.
This isn't a perfect film. There are some obviously contrived situations, and some very predictable scenes.
It sounds strange, but the movie was sometimes difficult to watch. Switzerland in 1971 was so bizarrely out of synch with the rest of the developed world that the setting felt like a medieval kingdom rather than a rich, modern, industrialized nation. I kept waiting for William Tell to walk down the street with his crossbow.
I had to keep reminding myself, "This really happened. Swiss women truly couldn't vote. Many men--and some women--wanted to keep it that way."
We saw this interesting movie at Rochester's excellent Little Theatre. It was shown as part of the 2017 High Falls Film Festival--Celebrating Women in Film. It will work well on a small screen.
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