A Hidden Life review – Terrence Malick's homage to an Austrian conscientious objector

Malick returns to the second world war with this poetic – and long – tale of the lonely trials of farmer Franz Jägerstätter

Terrence Malick contemplates the spiritual cost of war in this moving drama about Austrian farmer and conscientious objector Franz Jägerstätter. Franz (August Diehl) and Fani (Valerie Pachner) enjoy a peaceful life in the mountains, but when he refuses to swear loyalty to Hitler after being conscripted a second time, he is imprisoned.

Malick links the lonely labour of working the land with the thanklessness of sainthood, asking questions about devotion, tradition and individual acts of resistance. Mileage (and the film is three hours) will likely depend on your tolerance for the director’s signature poetic style.

There is an undeniable exuberance to his camera, which dives close to its characters as playfully and innocently curious as a small child. His perspective is one of exultant wonder, marvelling at the paradisiacal green grace of their valley, the metaphorical mist that hangs over the mountain and the soft earth at which Fani and her three daughters claw for answers.

Watch a trailer for A Hidden Life.


Simran Hans

The GuardianTramp

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