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Riders of the Sacred Blood (Blutritter, Die)

Riders of the Sacred Blood
Scene from "Riders of the Sacred Blood" (photo © Eikon Suedwest GmbH)

For over 1,000 years the Upper Swabian city of Weingarten in southwest Germany has been celebrating the Ride of the Sacred Blood. On the day after Ascension, 3000 horsemen pay homage to the Holy Relic, which is believed to contain a drop of the blood of Jesus Christ.

While similar rituals elsewhere have been reduced to folkloric popular events, here in Upper Swabia the tradition is taken very seriously. For the people of Weingarten, the Ride of the Sacred Blood is "like Christmas, Easter and Pentecost all rolled into one," as Father Nikolaus says in the film. Veneration of the Holy Relic heals the sick, gives courage to those in despair, and turns scoffers into devout believers.

With gentle irony and genuine fondness for his protagonists, Douglas Wolfsperger presents a slice of German small-town life and portrays some of the quirkiest characters in this extremely Catholic event.

Blood stands for life and for wounds, for healing and death. In the end, the portraits of the riders condense into an integral whole and leave us with a more acute sense of the transitory nature of earthly life.
Genre Religion, Society
Category Documentary
Year of Production 2003
Director Douglas Wolfsperger
Screenplay Douglas Wolfsperger
Cinematography Igor Luther
Götz Schuberth
Producer Ulli Pfau
Production Company EIKON Südwest/Stuttgart, in co-production with Bayerischer Rundfunk, 3sat/Mainz
Runtime 86 min
Format 35 mm, color
Subtitled Version English
Sound Technology Dolby SR
Festivals Locarno 2004, IDFA Amsterdam 2004, Goa 2004
With backing from FilmFernsehFonds Bayern, MFG Baden-Württemberg
German Distributor Wilder Süden Filmverleih/Berlin

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70176 Stuttgart/Germany
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