A Hidden Life is a slow-burn heartbreaking story of Franz Jägerstätter, who refused to fight for the Nazis in World War II. It’s based on a true story of the Austrian conscientious objector.
Go to the bathroom beforehand and grab a glass of wine, as it’s a long journey with a nearly 3-hour duration. This is perhaps the only negative, in what is a masterclass of cinematography. This film is hot to win awards and you really should see it in the cinema.
The first third of the film is devoted to meeting Franz’s family, his wife Frani and three children. We gradually meet other members of the community and uncover his lifestyle as a peasant farmer.
The conversations are sometimes fragmented – almost how we remember past events – the most poignant moments are the ones we recall. At times the conversation is poetic and deeply philosophical. There are themes of why we are alive, what part does religion play, what is the difference between good and bad and what’s the point of it all?
The scenes of the Austrian Alps village are breathtaking. There are montages of black and white historical footage of Hitler.
Between the wars, Franz heads to Enns Military base for military training, but then returned to his village under a farming exemption. He returns but starts to question whether fighting for something he doesn’t believe something he wants to do.
He ends up arrested and thrown in jail. Here we see a very stark contract where he is stuck behind dark walls with only a courtyard for brief breaks and a mixed bag of company.
We see Frani and her sister carry on with the hard work, often at the confusion and disapproval of the other members of the close nit town.
I was left wanting him to escape, and wondering why he didn’t hide out in the nearby forests.
“Who would remember or care about the anti-Nazi gesture of an uneducated farmer?”
A Hidden Life is well-worth watching to pause at how lucky we are not at war and to remind you to treasure your loved ones.
A Hidden Life is in Australian cinemas 30 January 2020.
About A Hidden Life
Based on real events, from writer-director Terrence Malick, A Hidden Life is the story of an unsung hero, Franz Jägerstätter, who refused to fight for the Nazis in World War II. When the Austrian peasant farmer is faced with the threat of execution for treason, it is his unwavering faith and his love for his wife Fani and children that keep his spirit alive.
Fox Searchlight Pictures presents, an Elizabeth Bay Production in association with Aceway and Studio Babelsberg, A Hidden Life. Written and Directed by Terrence Malick, the film stars August Diehl, Valerie Pachner, Maria Simon, Tobias Moretti, Bruno Ganz, Matthias Schoenaerts, Karin Neuhäuser and Ulrich Matthes. The producers are Grant Hill, p.g.a., Dario Bergesio, Josh Jeter and Elisabeth Bentley. Executive Producers are Marcus Loges and Adam Morgan. The filmmaking team includes director of photography Joerg Widmer, production designer Sebastian Krawinkel, film editors Rehman Nizar Ali, Joe Gleason and Sebastian Jones, music by James Newton Howard and costume designer Lisy Christl.