A Hidden Life (2019) Movie Review

By: Movie Snurb (A Toast) –

Terrence Malick’s new film is based on a true story rather than simply inspired by true events like The Thin Red Line or Badlands. It tells the story of Franz Jagerstatter, an Austrian farmer who is in the Austrian army. He lives in a small village in the mountains and has a modest farm with his wife Fani, their three daughters, and Fani’s sister. As WWII slowly creeps into every small town in Europe their town is forced to no longer be Objectors in the War. Franz is called to serve in the Nazi army, but he refuses to swear loyalty to Hitler. He is imprisoned for his defiance and his wife and daughters are ostracized in their community that they once were beloved.

A Toast

My God is this film beautiful; it rivals Days of Heaven for Malick’s most beautiful film. This might get the edge simply for those gorgeous lush mountains in the background. I could go on about how beautiful this film, is but I’ll let the pics speak for themselves. The real genius in the cinematography, at least the main thing I came away with noticing is how the characters are filmed. Most of the film is through almost a fisheye lens, making our main characters very close and everything in the background seem further away then they really are from it. This was to show how truly alone Franz and Fani were in their defiance. It is a small detail, but very effective.

This is a powerful, emotionally affecting film. It puts in you the shoes of Franz and asks, could you do what Franz did?  It puts you in the shoes of Fani and helps you understand how marriage is a joint venture and the decisions of one directly effects the other. Malick saves one of the most emotional scenes for the end when Fani tells Franz “Whatever you do, I’m with you.” Their love is deep, understanding, and complex. It’s not conditional, Fani was with Franz every step of the way, still just as in love with him since the day they first met. Malick simultaneously fills your heart with emotion while ripping it out of your chest. It’s great to see him in top form again.

Malick poses an excellent question about halfway through the film as a painter is painting the ceiling of a church. He talks about how everyone thinks they wouldn’t have done what the Romans did to Jesus.  It seems so obvious now that everyone wholly believes they wouldn’t have reveled in his murder. But the painter doesn’t think it’s that obvious, he believes that people are more human than they think, and depending on how it could impact them they would turn on Jesus as well.

It’s a difficult question to answer and Malick seems to agree with the painter. I’d like to say if I lived back then in Austria I would defy Hitler as well, but if I could just sign a paper and go home to my wife and children knowing in my heart that I gave in and swore loyalty to pure evil, throwing out my beliefs, what would I be teaching my children, how is that fighting for the forsaken, and against injustice? I want to say I’d defy Hitler, but unfortunately most of us would be like several people in their village who stand with Franz but will not show it out loud and will not publicly stand up to Hitler.

I’d also like to quickly mention possibly the greatest score of 2019 by James Newton Howard. Along with his beautiful original score they mix in pieces of classical music which take the beauty of this film to an extraordinary level. Malick loves using classical pieces to help score his films and he does another impeccable job of picking pieces of music.


A Hidden Life is a deeply emotional, beautifully shot film about a very important story from the 20th century. In these times when it seems like Racism is becoming more acceptable because our leader is racist on television, or social media, we should all strive to be like Franz.  If we see injustice happening, we need to stand up to evil.

A Hidden Life (2019) Drinking Game

Do a Shot: for every flashback.

Do a Shot: for every monologue

Take a Drink: every time someone is mean or rude to Franz or Fani.

Do a Shot: for every time you shed a tear.

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