A Hidden Life | Chicago Reader
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A Hidden Life

Set in Austria in 1939, A Hidden Life portrays the story of peasant farmer Franz Jägerstätter in the small mountain village of St. Radegund along with his wife Fani and their three small children. A conscientious objector to the horrors of the German war effort, Franz is conscripted then ultimately imprisoned and tried for his refusal to swear an oath of allegiance to Adolf Hitler. Eschewing some of the typically unstructured narrative composition of Terrence Malick’s previous work (The Tree of Life, The Thin Red Line, Days of Heaven), the film is both meticulous and beautiful, comprised of a series of vignettes of loose chronological order that is driven forward largely through voiceover narration of correspondence between Franz and Fani. Director of photography Jörg Widmer maintains the improvisational photographic style typical of Malick, providing an expansive view of the ordinary life and labor of the villagers of Radegund as it is subsumed by the historical events taking place around them. As such, the film is notable not only for its somber portrayal of Jägerstätter’s quiet act of resistance, but its focus on the effect that his refusal has on Fani, who is left behind to suffer the skepticism and revulsion of her neighbors. Ultimately, A Hidden Life is a moving portrayal of a small act of opposition that serves to remind us of the possibilities of our own humanity in inhumane times.

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Cast information not available at this time.

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