Franz Jagerstatter is a devoted Christian who lives in a small village in Austrian Alps with his family. When Austria is annexed to Hitler’s Germany and his representatives begin to appear in the village, poisoning its atmosphere and pushing towards the Naxist doctrine, Franz decides to take a stand against it. His behaviour will cost him isolation at first and then prison when he refuses to fight for Hitler’s army. His stern objection to war will later lead him to be executed in 1943.
A true story, gradually emerged from the archives of history, about a common man leading “a hidden life” (the title comes from a quote by George Eliot) who ended up being beatified as a martyr by Benedict XVI and whose passive resistance is strong and moving, motivated by a deep faith in God and narrated through his own words and letter he wrote from prison.
After some very disappointing and pointless movies, Terrence Malick returns to the fragmented narrative which has been the key of his cult in movies like “The Thin Red Line” and “Days of Heaven”. With the help of the astonishing beauty of Austrian Alps (the movie has been mainly filmed in South Tyrol), Malick reflects again on the relationship between the Human Being and the need of spirituality and how this need intertwines with Nature and is threatened by War. The result is a poignant poem, a fascinating meditation which also provides food for thought about our contemporary time. August Diehl is magnetic as Franz. Bruno Ganz and Michael Nyqvist appear in cameos which also turned out to be, sadly, their final roles.