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The Power of Moral Conviction: A Hidden Life Film Review

A Hidden Life – A Powerful Tale of Moral Courage and Resistance

A Hidden Life is a heart-wrenchingly beautiful movie directed by Terrence Malick. It tells the true story of Franz Jgersttter, an Austrian farmer who refused to fight for the Nazis during World War II.

The film is a reminder of the universal importance of individual conscience over institutional authority. It’s about one man who dares to stand up for his beliefs, even if it means facing persecution, rejection and death.- The Power of Conscience

The movie A Hidden Life is a poignant reminder of the importance of conscience.

It tells the story of a man who, despite pressure from his friends, family, and government, refuses to let his conscience be silenced. Franz Jgersttter, the protagonist of the film, is a true hero who chose to follow his heart and his moral convictions, even when it cost him everything.

Franz’s Story – Resistance Against Fascism

Franz Jgersttter was a simple farmer living in a small village in Austria. When he was drafted into the German army during World War II, he refused to swear allegiance to Hitler and to fight for the Nazis.

The film depicts his struggles with the bureaucracy and his stand against the Fascists. Despite the strong opposition of his family and friends, Franz remained steadfast in his convictions.

His decision not to fight had tremendous personal consequences. He was arrested, thrown in prison, and eventually executed.

Malick’s Vision – A Cinematic Masterpiece

Terrence Malick, the director of A Hidden Life, is known for creating cinematic masterpieces that are deeply philosophical, poetic, and visually stunning. The movie’s cinematography is breathtaking, with stunning landscapes and light playing a crucial role throughout the story.

The film’s narrative is fluid, with events, thoughts, and feelings blending seamlessly into each other. The dialogue is sparse, but every word is weighed down by meaning.

The soundtrack, composed by James Newton Howard, enhances the visual story and imbues it with a sense of wonder and awe.

The Significance – Moral Courage and Resistance

The significance of A Hidden Life extends far beyond the story of Franz Jgersttter. It is a universal tale of moral courage and resistance.

It is a reminder that each one of us has the power to make a difference in the world by standing up for what we believe in, and not succumbing to the pressures of conformity and social expectations.


A Hidden Life is a powerful movie that should be watched by everyone who wants to be inspired by human resilience, courage, and moral integrity. The film is a tribute to the power of the human spirit, the ability to resist, and the inexhaustible potential of the human heart.

It is a timeless masterpiece that will resonate with audiences for generations to come. The plot of A Hidden Life is a simple one, but it is the way in which it is executed that makes it such a powerful and moving story.

The film’s narrative is essentially divided into three acts, each of which is marked by the changes in Franz’s life and the situations that he finds himself in. Act One – Franz’s Life Before the War

The first act of the film is dedicated to introducing us to Franz and his daily life before the war.

We see him tending to his farm, spending time with his wife and children, and being part of the community. However, there is a sense of foreboding that underlies everything, as we know that the war is looming on the horizon, and that it will eventually disrupt Franz’s idyllic life.

The first act is particularly important, as it sets up the contrast between Franz’s simple, peaceful existence and the chaos and violence of the war. It also establishes the character of Franz as a man who is deeply rooted in his faith and who believes in the sanctity of human life.

Act Two – Franz’s Arrest and Imprisonment

The second act of the film begins with Franz’s arrest and his subsequent imprisonment. Here, we see the true extent of the power of the Nazi government and the brutality of their methods.

Franz is subjected to interrogation and psychological torture, all in an attempt to break his will and force him to comply with their wishes. This act is the darkest and most emotionally draining part of the film.

It shows us the true horror of the Nazi regime and the way in which it eroded people’s freedom and autonomy. Franz’s struggles are both physical and spiritual, as he tries to maintain his sense of self and his moral convictions in the face of overwhelming opposition.

Act Three – Franz’s Final Stand

The final act of the film is dedicated to Franz’s final stand against the Nazis. This is the most emotionally resonant part of the movie, as we see Franz’s unwavering belief in his own conscience and his willingness to accept the consequences of his actions.

In this act, we witness the true heroism of Franz Jgersttter. He knows that he will die for his beliefs, but he still remains firm in his convictions.

He refuses to allow the Nazis to break his spirit, and he holds onto his faith until the very end. His final moments are heartrending, as we see him being led to the guillotine with a sense of calm and resignation.

The Final Word

In conclusion, the plot of A Hidden Life is a simple one, but it is executed with skill and sensitivity. The film’s narrative structure is effective in showing us the different stages of Franz’s life and the way in which the war and the Nazi government impacted him.

The plot is driven by the character of Franz, and the way in which he refused to compromise his moral convictions even in the face of unimaginable suffering. Through his story, the film delivers a powerful message about the importance of standing up for one’s beliefs, even when it costs us dearly.

Overall, A Hidden Life is a film that will stay with the viewer long after the final credits have rolled. In addition to its powerful plot and superb acting, A Hidden Life is also a technical triumph.

Director Terrence Malick and his team went to great lengths to create a film that is both visually striking and emotionally resonant.

Cinematography – A Visual Feast

The cinematography in A Hidden Life is nothing short of breathtaking. The film was shot on location in Austria, and the natural beauty of the landscape is on full display.

From the majestic mountains to the vibrant green fields, every frame of the movie is a feast for the eyes. The cinematographer, Jrg Widmer, uses a combination of wide shots and close-ups to create a sense of intimacy with the characters.

The camera movements are gentle and flowing, giving the film a dreamlike quality that is both mesmerizing and emotionally resonant.

Visual Effects – Seamless Integration

Despite being a film set in the past, A Hidden Life uses visual effects only when necessary. The special effects are subtle and are used to enhance the story, rather than for their own sake.

For example, during the scenes featuring Franz’s dream sequences, the visual effects are used to create a sense of disorientation and confusion. The images are blurred and distorted, echoing the turmoil that Franz is experiencing internally.

Soundtrack – A Haunting Score

The score of a movie can be just as important as the visuals, and A Hidden Life is no exception. The music, composed by James Newton Howard, is haunting, evocative, and perfectly captures the tone of the film.

Howard’s score uses a combination of orchestral and choral arrangements, with the occasional use of solo piano. The music is both uplifting and mournful, mirroring the emotional journey of the protagonist, Franz.

Editing – A Unique Style

The editing of A Hidden Life is distinctive and unique. The film features a non-linear narrative structure, with scenes from different parts of Franz’s life intercutting with each other.

However, the editing is never jarring or confusing, and instead creates a sense of introspection and reflection. The film’s narrative is also interspersed with quotes from various spiritual texts, adding to the sense of contemplation and meditation.

This unique style of editing adds to the film’s thematic depth and elevates it beyond a simple biopic.

Costuming and Production Design – Attention to Detail

The costuming and production design in A Hidden Life is impeccable. From the authentic 1940s military uniforms to the traditional Austrian clothing worn by the civilians, every detail is carefully considered and executed.

The production design is also noteworthy, with every set and location capturing the look and feel of 1940s Austria. From the rustic farmhouse to the austere prison cell, the environments are both historically accurate and visually stunning.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, the production of A Hidden Life is a technical achievement that deserves recognition. The film’s gorgeous cinematography, subtle visual effects, haunting soundtrack, unique editing style, and impeccable costuming and production design all come together to create a cinematic experience that is both beautiful and emotionally resonant.

These technical aspects of the film enhance the powerful story of Franz Jgersttter, making it a film that is both aesthetically and thematically compelling. A Hidden Life was released in 2019, and despite critical acclaim, it did not receive a wide release in theaters.

Instead, the film was premiered at various film festivals around the world before being released to limited audiences. Its release, therefore, was largely overshadowed by other box office hits at the time.

Limited Release Strategy

The limited release strategy for A Hidden Life was intentional and not uncommon for independent films. Rather than release the film to a wide audience and risk losing money, the producers opted for a carefully targeted release.

This strategy allowed them to test the waters and create buzz around the film without overspending on marketing. The film’s limited release meant that it did not gross as much money as some of the other releases that year.

However, it did receive critical acclaim and was even chosen as one of the Top Ten Independent Films of 2019 by the National Board of Review.

Home Release

Following the impressive critical reception, A Hidden Life was released on DVD, Blu-Ray, and digitally. This wider release allowed the film to reach a larger audience, and it has continued to receive praise for its story, acting, and technical achievements.

Despite its limited release, A Hidden Life has garnered a cult following, and many film lovers consider it one of the best films of 2019. Fans have praised the film’s powerful message, exceptional cast, breathtaking cinematography, and haunting score.

Impact on the Industry

A Hidden Life represents the ongoing trend of independent films facing challenges when it comes to receiving a wider release. Smaller productions often struggle to compete with big-budget blockbusters at the box office.

However, the film’s limited release strategy and eventual home release have shown that there is still a place for independent cinema. A Hidden Life also demonstrates the importance of critical acclaim in generating buzz and creating a loyal fanbase.

Despite its small marketing budget, the film received a lot of media attention and favorable reviews from critics. This attention has helped to keep the film in the public eye long after its initial release.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, A Hidden Life’s limited release was a deliberate strategy by the production team, which allowed the film to create buzz and receive critical acclaim without overspending on marketing. The film’s eventual home release also helped it to reach a wider audience.

Despite its struggles to receive a wide release, A Hidden Life has been a success story for independent cinema, showing that smaller productions can still make an impact and garner a loyal following. Additionally, the film is a testament to the importance of critical acclaim and the role it plays in generating interest in a film.

Overall, A Hidden Life has left a lasting impression on audiences and critics alike, and its legacy will continue to be felt for years to come. The soundtrack of A Hidden Life is an essential part of the film’s emotional resonance.

Composed by James Newton Howard, the score is haunting, evocative, and perfectly captures the film’s central themes of morality, faith, and resistance.

Soundtrack Overview

The music of A Hidden Life is primarily orchestral and uses a combination of strings, woodwinds, and brass instruments. Howard’s unique style of blending different instrumentations creates a sense of depth and richness in the score.

He also incorporates choral pieces at key moments in the film, which adds to the sense of spirituality and contemplation. The score is remarkably consistent throughout the film, with each piece of music blending seamlessly into the next.

The overall feeling of the score is of melancholy and sorrow, though it also contains moments of hopefulness and triumph.

Haunting Theme

One of the standout pieces of music in the score is the film’s main theme. The theme is a hauntingly beautiful melody that is played over sweeping strings and woodwinds.

It captures the essence of the film’s central character, Franz Jgersttter, and his internal struggle with morality and conscience. The theme is used sparingly throughout the film and is often played during moments of introspection and reflection.

It encapsulates the emotional journey of the protagonist and adds to the film’s overall sense of melancholy.

Choral Arrangements

Another significant aspect of the soundtrack is Howard’s use of choral arrangements. The choral pieces are sung in German and are often heard during moments of spiritual contemplation or emotional resonance.

One of the most memorable choral pieces is “Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen” (I am lost to the world) by Gustav Mahler. It is a haunting and melancholic piece that is sung during the film’s final moments.

The choral arrangements add an extra layer of depth and complexity to the soundtrack, underscoring the film’s themes of spirituality and faith.

Score Reception

The score for A Hidden Life has received a lot of critical acclaim and has been widely praised by film critics and audiences. Howard’s work has been recognized with numerous award nominations, including a nomination for Best Original Score at the 2020 Oscars.

Many have noted that the music is an essential part of what makes the film such an emotional powerhouse. The haunting score and choral arrangements add tremendously to the film’s overall sense of melancholy and serve to heighten the emotional impact of Franz’s journey.

A Lasting Impression

In conclusion, the soundtrack of A Hidden Life is an integral component of the film’s overall artistic success. James Newton Howard’s haunting and melancholic score, coupled with the choral arrangements, create a sense of depth and complexity that underscores the film’s themes of faith, morality, and resistance.

The music lingers in the mind long after the film has ended and leaves a lasting emotional impression on the viewer. The score is a testament to Howard’s incredible musical talent and his ability to capture the soul of the film.

In conclusion, A Hidden Life is an exceptional film that tells the heart-wrenching true story of Franz Jgersttter. It captures the struggles that ordinary people faced during World War II and the remarkable acts of courage and resistance that some displayed.

The film’s technical achievements and haunting soundtrack add to its emotional resonance, making it a must-see for film lovers and history buffs alike.



What is A Hidden Life about? A Hidden Life is a film that tells the true story of Franz Jgersttter, an Austrian farmer who refused to fight for the Nazis during World War II.

2. Who directed A Hidden Life?

A Hidden Life was directed by Terrence Malick. 3.

What is the significance of A Hidden Life? A Hidden Life is significant because it tells a story of moral courage and resistance during one of the darkest periods in human history.

4. What is the limited release strategy?

The limited release strategy is a marketing strategy for independent films in which the film is released on a small scale to create buzz and test the waters. 5.

Who composed the soundtrack for A Hidden Life? The soundtrack for A Hidden Life was composed by James Newton Howard.

6. What is the main theme of the soundtrack?

The main theme of the soundtrack is a hauntingly beautiful melody that captures the essence of the film’s central character, Franz Jgersttter, and his internal struggle with morality and conscience. 7.

What awards was the score for A Hidden Life nominated for? The score for A Hidden Life was nominated for Best Original Score at the 2020 Oscars.

8. What is the film’s overall message?

The film’s message is about the importance of standing up for one’s beliefs, even when it costs us dearly, and the resilience of the human spirit in the face of adversity.

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