Terrence Malick’s A Hidden Life: A Return to Form for One of America’s Greatest Filmmakers

A Hidden Life (AKA, Terrence Malick’s Rebel With a Pretty Valid Cause) is another fantastic account to remind us that Hitler basically screwed over e-v-e-r-y-b-o-d-y—even the country he was ruling over. August Diehl plays one of history’s greatest Anti-Nazis—opposite to when he ironically played one of fiction’s greatest Nazis in Inglorious Basterds. In this atypical fighter’s narrative, we see a man unable to live a virtually flawless life due to the sadistic nature of those who question and expose his firm compulsions.

Franz Jägerstätter is the sort of individual that may not be the brightest nor most considerate of men but is assuredly the archetypal example of the strongest of people. Similar to Martin Scorsese’s Silence, Terrence Malick’s 10th feature-length follows a man who is willing to put belief before anything else. In a battle to address understanding and confirmation from those perplexed by his brawny will, this anti-Hitler, anti-war agriculturalist must face some of the hardest decisions life had to offer for a family man during World War II.

If anything, A Hidden Life is about the ridiculous amount of life people can waste when war is always in the foreground. It’s about the unnecessary thirst for death, the absence of knowledge we occasionally have when we serve leaders, and the hazy denotations of what freedom can truly admit as.

It would be absolutely redundant to say that a new Terrence Malick film looks splendid and is a technical achievement in almost every shape and form—considering all of them look f****** magnificent. But like many of Malick’s more recent films, A Hidden Life can feel needlessly long at times. The editors could’ve effortlessly cut down a whole fifty minutes from the nearly three-hour-long motion picture and practically nothing would change besides the pacing. At this point though, I think we all should accept the fact that Malick will never learn to not use as much unnecessary footage as humanly possible.

A Hidden Life is a movie that bizarrely made me appreciate the beauty of life a little more. Despite there being horrendous nonfictional events depleting on screen, I found the whole trial to be a cautionary tale on what to avoid in order to preserve meaning and prosperity in life. Hmm. Is this possibly Malick’s most mature film? Woah.

Verdict: B+

2019 Ranked

“A Hidden Life” will be released in theaters on December 13, 2019. 

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