A Hidden Life (Terrence Malick, 2019) Germany | USA

Reviewed by Kaio Farkouh and edited by Rachel Clyde. Viewed at the Cannes film festival.

This was my favorite movie from the Cannes film festival. Walking into this movie I knew I would enjoy it because I really like Terrance Malick’s filming making and story telling style. I think this time he crafted something truly special. It did not matter to me that the movie is almost 3 hours long. It was very nice to see an inspirational story through Malick’s point of view. If you already know Terrance Malick, you know what to expect: very slow movie with extremely long takes and amazing cinematography that shows his passion for nature. We see all of this in “A Hidden Life,” however different from his last movies (“Knight of Cups” and “Song to Song”) this time he is telling a story based on true events, a story about remaining faithful to what you believe even through dark time.

The year is 1949, Austria, where we see our main character living an ordinary life with his wife and daughters. From time to time, men from the village are called to serve in the Army, in other words, serve Hitler. Through the movie the main character, Franz Jägerstätter (August Diehl), finds himself in a position that goes against his beliefs. That’s when he decides to go against the system, against his own people, and his own village.

The village that the main character lives seems like a dream. And he states, “a place above the clouds where no evil can’t get.” With Malick’s cinematography, the village does indeed look like a paradise. However at the moment that Franz turns against his own people, the peaceful life that he had is gone. This is what I most admire about this film; it is a film that speaks too and works for any situation. The message of the film is that we have to stand up for the things that we believe in even if everything turns against you.

Malick’s screenplay is outstanding. The movie is indeed slow, however, I was very invested in the story and did not mind. Even though it is predictable the outcome, the ending is very touching. The story is not about how it ends for our main character, but his journey, his persistence and above all, his faith. His faith to know that he is doing the right thing, based on his faith. However it is not about being right or wrong, but it is about finding clarity through darkness. Malick is back and I cannot wait to watch this movie again. For most people, I believe they will struggle with the pace of the movie, but it is still worth a watch. This movie is pure art, from its amazing shots to its message about how ordinary people can make a big difference. Just stick to your faith and fight for it. Masterpiece.

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