Terrence Malick works persuasively from real life accounts of Franz Jagerstater in his latest ruminative drama, arguably his most involving since The Tree of Life.
A Hidden Life is basically a two handler featuring August Diehl (Inglourious Basterds) and Valerie Pachner as Austrian peasant farmer Franz and beloved missus Franziska. It has a political slant which feels pertinent to the early 21st Century even though the setting is early World War II.
Franz is conscripted by the Nazi regime to serve under the Fuhrer but declines as a conscientious objector. This allow for the usually ambitious, often artistic auteur to safe an aesthetic through faith and spirituality (the moniker comes from a George Eliot passage).
Tribunals and varying onuses due to fascist conformity spur on a lofty quest. One which can be wrenching from a life ‘above the clouds’ as the narrative gels from spousal correspondence while raising three precious young daughters.
Like many a cinematic endeavor from Malick(see The New World for example) this foray is opportunistic in a gratifying and absorbing manner if one is willing to surrender to the ambiance and swirling lensing.
What is an intimate expression does its utmost to contrast the tragic and rapturous with a certain measured lanquor.
Dignity turns out to be crucial to the content as being ‘out of mind’ takes on a deeper significance. The pallor of life within joy and the ashen in a stable environment is there to behold in A Hidden Life. Especially when it comes to an unknown, if committed individual beatified by Pope Benedict in 2007.