An ode to a little-known hero: A Hidden Life by Terrence Malick

Picture of the movie A Hidden Life © Iris Productions

Director, script writer and producer Terrence Malick is once again in Competition, eight years after being awarded the Palme d’or for The Tree of Life and 40 years after receiving the Best Director Award for Days of Heaven. This year, he brings us A Hidden Life, a feature film on the life of Franz Jägerstätter, a conscientious objector who was executed by the Nazis in 1943.

Set during World War II, A Hidden Life tells the true-life story of Franz Jägerstätter, played by August Diehl (Inglourious Basterds, in Competition in 2009 and Le jeune Karl Marx (The Young Karl Marx), 2017), with Maria Simon, Bruno Ganz and Matthias Schoenaerts in supporting roles. The Austrian farmer was openly opposed to the Nazi regime and refused to take up arms alongside Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich. This act of courage and defiance ultimately led to him being accused of treason and assassinated by the Nazis. This pious man drew strength from his faith and his love for his family in continuing his struggle for freedom.

Terrence Malick's unique work has offered up visually-striking, original and intense films. This isn't the first time the American director has used real-life stories to inspire his writing: Badlands (1975) is based on the life of serial killer Charles Starkweather, The Thin Red Line (1998) takes place during the Guadalcanal Campaign and The New World (2005) is an account of English admiral and explorer John Smith and Pocahontas. Fifteen years later, the director is back with a new historical vignette.

Following a series of scriptless films designed as spiritual reveries that unfurl in silent, languid and poetic shots, the enigmatic director appears to be returning to a more linear narrative style with A Hidden Life.