A Hidden Life Review and Summary

A Hidden Life Review and Summary

A Hidden Life Review. There are directors that you will know immediately from their narrative style. Terrence Malick is one of them… He makes visually sound and elaborate films. There are countless picturesque frames to be hung on the wall. He has a style he hasn’t changed much, but it would not be right to describe him as a form-obsessed director. Because he is a filmmaker who wants to convey his troubles to the audience in the shortest way. Word and message are important to him. In fact, most of his films turn into poetic sermons after a certain point.

I think that the light, color and framing arrangements in Malick films have an almost meditative quality. Although it cannot be said that he made films that will rest your soul, in terms of the subjects he deals with, the style somehow directs you within yourself. The depictions of nature in particular seem to reflect the admiration for a transcendent reality beyond the material existence of this world… Nature in his films is often powerful, beautiful and harmonious. The world of people is far from the peace of nature.


A Hidden Life Review – On the other hand, Malick’s films have literary tastes, due to the inner voices of the characters that we hear throughout the film. Malick uses dialogue to improve the story. The inner voices of the characters are to go deeper into the subject they deal with… The questions raised or the problems addressed by the film are revealed by the inner voices of the characters. In Malick movies, people express themselves verbally. Nature, on the other hand, perceives the transcendence beyond everything only through images and sounds …

People are generally caught between the harmony, beauty and peace of nature and the chilling, chilling consequences created by civilization.

“A Hidden Life” proceeds on the same theme. In one of the mountain villages of Austria, St. The peace and happiness of Franz Jägerstätter (August Diehl), who lives in Radegund with his wife and three daughters, ends with the arrival of the Nazis.

In the first period he joined the army, Jägerstätter, who received only basic military training and was sent to his home like most farmers without having to go to the front, starts to live in his village, the main problems of which are civil life.


A Hidden Life Review – For Jägerstätter, a devout and devout Catholic, the Nazis’ racism and anti-immigrant rhetoric mean nothing. He is uncomfortable that the people he lives in the same village are suddenly caught up in racist propaganda by the Nazis, when there is no threat to them. Like many people, he prefers passive resistance instead of keeping his ideas to himself. For example, he refuses Nazis who come to mobilize a share of his product, does not enlist voluntarily, does not accept state aid, and does not hide his dislike of Nazis. When all this causes reactions in the village, the process of exclusion begins for her family and herself. The big problem arises when he is enlisted. Looking at Adolf Hitler as the Antichrist who brought evil to the world he lived in, Jägerstätter refuses to swear allegiance to him as a devout Christian.

Franz Jägerstätter is a character who really lived. In fact, some of the scenes in the film were shot by the Jägerstätter family in St. Note that it was filmed in his real home in Radegund.

Most of the events described in the film are real, but when you do some research, it is possible to see that Malick, who also wrote the script, brought his own interpretation to the story. Obviously, the point that concerns Malick most is that Jägerstätter acts only by following his own conscience.


A Hidden Life Review – The clergy he speaks with propose compromise, but Jägerstätter cannot accept this idea. In at least 3-4 scenes, different people tell Jägerstätter that what they do will make no noise across the country and will not change anything. All the authorities, especially the lawyers, are bringing them to say “Keep your ideas to yourself and get rid of them by taking an oath of loyalty” …

Jägerstätter is not acting with the intention of making his voice heard or fighting the Nazis alone. After all, he has hardly any moral support from anyone except his wife, Fani (Valerie Pachner). But he doesn’t want to do anything that doesn’t fit his beliefs and conscience.

In the finale, Malick, with his usual open-heartedness, who does not hesitate to give a message to the audience, explains what he means with the title “a secret life”, with a quote from George Eliot’s “Middlemarch”.

It can be said that Malick’s entire film was shot as a homage to Jägerstätter’s faith and fortitude. It is no doubt easy to resist the social pressure that dictates how you think and act. Therefore, the film tells a story that will never get old and will preserve its meaning under all circumstances.


A Hidden Life Review – Malick sufficiently emphasizes the process of exclusion of Jägerstätter and his family in the village. But I think he would have wanted to underline that Jägerstätter was not forgiven by the people of his village for years after the war, if he wanted to deal with the issue a little more through society-individual relations. Even in a period when the Nazis were defeated, if you still say the “unforgivable crime”, it can be said “not acting with everyone” … Because this is one of the unforgivable crimes of the individual in places like villages and towns … What matters to that village or the social group you are a part of is not that you oppose the Nazis, but that you oppose the group’s will. In such places, being a harmonious part of the herd is more important than almost any value. But even though Malick tells a story that brings these to mind, he sets the axis of the issue as belief; it does not deal with the individual-society relationship in depth.

When you search a little, you can see that Jägerstätter’s story told in the film was not well known until the American sociologist Gordon Zahn’s book “In Solitary Witness: The Life and Death of Franz Jägerstätter” published in 1964. Jägerstätter’s life is no longer ‘secret’ today. On the contrary, his country is a historical personality for Austria and the Christian world. Still, it matters what Malick means by the title “a secret life”. Because Jägerstätter was not interested in how his name will be called in the future while he was willing to stand apart from the herd at a time when the Nazis ruled all over Europe. He just wanted to do what was right in terms of his conscience and belief …

Malick shows that he stands by the passive resistance against violence with the ideas voiced by the characters in the film such as “It is better to suffer injustice than to commit injustice” or “Good man does not do evil”; He knows how to draw a solid mental frame for the film.


A Hidden Life Review – In Malick’s films, the motionless camera that has become the hallmark of his style now appears in “A Hidden Life”. The camera attached to the Steadycam follows characters closely and often from lower angles. He mostly combines the plans he has taken with wide-angle lenses and a moving camera with a fiction that is sometimes jumpy and sometimes not sequential in time. He likes long shots but doesn’t use it all the time. He prefers parallel montage, not fast editing. He always maintains the same style throughout the movie. He doesn’t shoot the scenes in different styles according to different emotions.

I think that the building block of Malick’s cinema is the pictoriality of the frames… He likes naturalness in light since his first films. Daylight is very important to him. The main light source is always the sun. In the interior spaces, the light source usually comes from the windows.

Malick did not work with the cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, with whom he worked for years in “A Hidden Life”, but with Jörg Widmer, who worked as the Steadycam operator in Lubezki’s films. I think Malick and Widmer have done a great job together that emphasizes natural light and the colors of nature. The film has a sharp contrast cinematography that preserves the vibrancy of the colors. They determined the color palette in the shootings outside the village without losing sight of realism and naturalness. “A Hidden Life” is frankly a movie that I can recommend even just for image work …


Beyond being a background music, music in Malick films also stands out with the sense of transcendence it contains. James Newton Howard’s music also literally tears us away from the material world in the film. But natural sounds have a big contribution to this. James Newton Howard makes an important contribution to the film with compositions that integrate the sounds of nature and music inextricably.

A Hidden Life Review – Image, camera, music and editing… These are the elements that never bother me in a Malick movie. In A Hidden Life, I had no problem with the narrative style either. I like the way the movie deals with its plot, but I think 2 hours 47 minutes is a really long time for this movie. If we summarize the dramatic axis of the film as “a farmer who does not want to fight for the Nazis”, no other dramatic idea can be added to this except “farmer against neighborhood pressure and the state” for 167 minutes … The same dramatic motifs are repeated too much.

I put aside the annoyance of speaking English by native German actors like August Diehl and Valerie Pachner who played well throughout the film. Basically, I can say that I don’t like the commutes between German and English at all. In the Austrian village, the main character and his entourage spoke English, and the other characters spoke German, putting the search for the film as “alienating effect”. German is the language of hostility in the village, Nazi persecution and bureaucracy, with the exception of a few dialogues between Franz Jägerstätter and his wife Fani. English, on the other hand, functions as the language that “good people” understand. I think that this approach reduces the film to a simple symbolism, is unfair to German and harms realism. In summary, I can’t help but say, I wish the whole movie was in German. It is a pity that Malick is not as sensitive about this as, say, a Quentin Tarantino.


It was a Malick movie that I liked, though not as much as ‘A Hidden Life’, ‘Badlands’ (1973), ‘Days of Heaven’ (1978) and ‘Thin Red Line’ (1998). If I make a ranking among all his works, I put it one above The New World (2005) …

We should also mention that “A Hidden Life” is among the latest films of the Swiss actor Bruno Ganz, whom we watch as military judge, and the Swedish actor Michael Nyqvist, whom we know from the “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” series, who played Bishop Fliesser.

A Hidden Life Review & Trailer – 7/10

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