Four years ago I wrote on this blog about the thirty-six-year old Austrian peasant farmer Franz Jagerstatter.

Near the end of that post I listed a number of questions that Franz Jagerstatter’s courageous stand raises for anyone willing to pay attention to his story:

What was it that made it possible for Franz to penetrate the veil of darkness Hitler and his henchmen had cast over the minds of so many people who would have otherwise never countenanced the vicious regime that had come to power in Germany in 1933? How was Franz able to stand, virtually alone against most of his family, his government, his fellow citizens, and most significantly, in opposition to his church which he revered and to which he looked for moral guidance and wisdom in every aspect of his life? How was Franz, who was a deeply loving and dedicated husband and father, able to leave his young family and embrace the prospect of almost certain death?

I concluded that post saying,

I do not know the answers to these questions. But the answers may be on their way:

That was four years ago. I have waited patiently and finally the day is approaching. Terrence Malick’s film “A Hidden Life” is about to be screened in Victoria at Cinecenta:


Terrence Malick · Germany/USA · 2019 · 175 mins · PG

Mar 22 3:00 & 6:15pm

Mar 23 7:00pm

Inspired by the true story of Franz Jägerstätter (August Diehl), an Austrian peasant farmer who lives with his wife Fani (Valerie Pachner) and three young daughters. Franz is called into active duty to fight in WWII. It’s a war he doesn’t believe in, but even to be a medic would require Franz to swear an oath of loyalty to Adolf Hitler, an act his abiding faith will not permit. But Hitler will have his due, and the Nazis seek to extract it from Franz at any cost. Diehl and Pachner play their characters with Christ-and-Mary dignity in suffering as Franz is subjected to every humiliation and degradation to extract an oath. A Hidden Life is less a story than an experience, a spiritual journey made accessible through light and sound. Director Terrence Malick doesn’t transcend cinema. He sanctifies it.—Arizona Central

“A Hidden Life is both inspiring an heartbreaking, and the result is Terrence Malick’s best film in nearly a decade.” IGN

“A lovely, immersive experience.” Movie Nation

Cast August Diehl, Valerie Pachner, Maria Simon

By all accounts Malick fans love it and the usual skeptics write it off. I will certainly be there to view at least one screening of this movie. It is a tragic and painful story. But it is also a transcendent story of faith, courage, and love both for God, for family, for creation, and, in a curious way I think, even love for country.

From what I have read about this film, Franz’s wife Franziska may be as much a star in the story as her martyred husband. She certainly became a revered figure in real life living to be a 100 years old and keeping the memory of her husband alive when all others saw him as a traitor and a criminal.

I may have something more to say about this film after having viewed Malick’s movie.


I have written about Jagerstatter also here:

and here: