The Divine Order

The warm birth of feminism in the chilly 1970s Switzerland.

If you’ve never had your rights curtailed, it’s easy to forget how many people have within your and/or your parents’ lifetimes. Petra Volpe’s comedy The Divine Order is set in 1971 Switzerland, where, in spite of the cultural changes happening elsewhere in the world — signified by a montage of familiar 1960s footage, such as Woodstock and student protests — women couldn’t vote or hold jobs outside the home without their husbands’ permission. This is a problem for compassionate humans in general, and specifically for Nora (Marie Leuenberger), who wants more out of life than being stuck in the house.

Becoming reluctantly involved in the women’s movement — again, this is 1971, not 1920 — Nora eventually leads a women’s strike in her town, much to the anger of the men and some of the women. Although the film is in German, it’s still remarkable how much the strange and almost slurrish the era-appropriate phrase “women’s lib” sounds now — beware any man who used it in 1971, or 2017. The way The Divine Order ties suffrage and the right to choose one’s own destiny with Annie Sprinkle-style sexual liberation is almost a little too pat, but also results in an ending which qualifies as “happy” in more ways than one.

The Divine Order
Not rated.
Opens Friday at the Opera Plaza Cinema.

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