For anyone who has the opportunity to view Terrence Malick’s film, “A Hidden Life”, here are a few of the many questions you might find arising.

Questions That Emerge from Terrence Malick’s ‘A Hidden Life’

What is the role of “conscience” in my life?

  • How do I know what action my “conscience” is actually calling me to?
  • Is conscience the same as certainty? or, is there room in conscience for doubt?
  • What helps me trust in conscience when it is surrounded by uncertainty?
  • How do I know that what I think of as “conscience” is not just stubbornness, pride or self-deception?
  • What is the relationship between personal “conscience” and community authority?
  • What is the relationship between society’s laws and individual conscience?
  • How does a community balance these two?


Is there anything that might overrule my commitment to and responsibility for my family?

  • Is there ever a time or situation in which I might feel it was necessary to sacrifice my family for an abstract principle?
  • Could love ever cause me to abandon my family?


What evidence do I see in the world to suggest that human beings are either fundamentally connected, or essentially alone in the world?

  • What are the implications of my answer to this question?


What role does “duty” play in my life?

  • How do I discern the nature of duty in my life?
  • How might avoid allowing duty to become a prison?


What role does fear play in my life?

  • What might be the consequences of living in an environment that is saturated in fear?
  • What might help to diminish the influence of fear in my life?
  • How might my life look different if my choices and decisions were free of fear?


Do I believe in “evil” as a force at work in the affairs of human beings?

  • What is the responsibility of an individual in the face of “evil” if it exists?
  • How do I know when I am called upon to resist even at great cost to myself and those I love? (cf Matthew 5:38-39 – 38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer.)”
  • What is my responsibility in the face of destructive forces?


Where does real “power” lie in this film?

  • What are the false versions of “power” I encounter in my life?
  • How do I want to respond in the face of the abuse of “power”?


Do I believe in “eternity”?

  • If I believe in “eternity”, what impact does this belief have in my daily life?


What is true freedom as portrayed in this film?

  • What might support me in finding this freedom in my own life?


What role does the church play in this film?

  • What forces appear to shape the response of the church to Franz’s stand?
  •   What motivations might lie behind the church’s response?
  • How might I have wanted the church to respond?


What role does creation play in this film?


Was there ultimately any benefit/value/worth in Franz’s choice?

  • Was his sacrifice a meaningless waste of his life?
  • What would have been lost if he had simply sworn the oath and joined the Wehrmacht?
  • Do I see any value/purpose in martyrdom?
  • Is there anything that might cause me to feel giving up my life was the only possible appropriate option?
  • Is there anything for which I might be willing to die?


Despite the tragedy of this story, are there ways in which I am able to discern the presence of the Divine in this film?

  • Do I see any hope in this story?



Questions from Matt Zoller Seitz (

  • Is it morally acceptable to allow one’s spouse and children to suffer by sticking to one’s beliefs? Is that what’s really best for the family, for society, for the self?


  • Is it even possible to be totally consistent while carrying out noble, defiant acts? Is it a sin to act in self-preservation?


  • Which self-preserving acts are acceptable, and which are defined as cowardice?


  • Did God create suffering, and evil? If so, why? And why do suffering and evil inflict themselves arbitrarily and unequally?


  • Is the test of endurance and faith the point of injustice and pain? If so, is that point a defensible one?


  • Why be moral at all if morality can be neutered by force, and the powerful are inoculated against consequences that sting rest of us?