A Hidden Life
I’ve been a Terrence Malick fan for quite some time but truly thought of him as one of the best directors of all time after I watched Tree of Life. That film for me was absolutely perfect, encapsulating life in such a beautiful and experimental manner. I also loved both Knight of Cups and especially Song to Song. With A Hidden Life, the narrative is more focused and feels much more linear however the camera work and cinematography is still purely Malick. I don’t rate Hidden Life as highly as his last three works but its still a very solid attention to the brilliance of the filmmaker.
The film is based on the true story of Franz Jägerstätter, who famously refused to fight for the Nazi forces during World War II. He objected to the war and did not believe in that fight, however this leads to his imprisonment and takes a toll on his family as well who are ostracized. Franz writes letters to his wife from jail as he faces his impending execution. August Diehl stars in the lead role and is a familiar face to American cinema as he starred in Inglorious Basterds.
The directing style, editing, and pure visual cinema from Malick is wonderful. Malick employs different techniques for capturing his scenes. The camera follows close behind the character and is personal at many times. The film, which I believe was mostly shot in Germany is just visually stunning through the pictures of its beautiful location. Its a wonder to behold. Malick also uses a familiar tactic of his previous films where the character narrates his or her thoughts over the scene which I really like.
The one real downside I would say is that the film clocks in very close to 3 hours so you have to prepare for a long film. There are times in the story where its purely visual and not narrative moving forward but this is expected at this point with such an innovative and experimental filmmaker. Overall, this is a great entry into the already storied career of one of the very best filmmakers of all time.