As the conversation continues, another wise one in my life has responded by email to the first response I received to Terrence Malick’s “A Hidden Life” – First Impressions. With permission, here is another insightful contribution to this conversation.

Responding to “A Hidden Life” – Response to “First Impressions”  another correspondent writes:

This is such an insightful and helpful take on the movie. Ever since the movie ended, I have felt disturbed and irritated by the lack of resolve. Malick I believe, raised a curtain on a side of humanity (our own humanity) we rarely are forced to see. The film begins and ends with the outer veneer safely in place, the shadow hidden from view. But the main portion of the film is a look at the under belly.

I have found it has been an unsettling practice to simply sit with the rawness of this exposure. I have come in touch with how much I want completion, resolve, things to work out, and especially how much I yearn for a good dose of the ethereal wonder and beauty I sensed throughout much of The Tree of Life.

I believe Malick wants us to stand in the middle of this holy tension, not just seeing the two extremes but encouraging us to find our ground in the midst of this literal tug-of-war (“Mother, father; always you wrestle inside me, always you will.” – The Tree of Life) It is not what I instinctively think of as the gateway to the I Am Presence. But I need to trust that it is in holding this place of tension, of Reality as it is, that one will come closer to that possibly. And in the midst of this tension Malick calls us to give thanks and remain kind – a very high calling.

I found myself trusting Franz’s decision as one that he made as he sought to be true to his inner sense of truth and right action. He could not betray this inner sense of calling without destroying his spirit and soul although it certainly made no rational sense related to the well-being of his family. And it didn’t appear to have much effect on the war machine of the time.

In relation to seeking truth, I was struck with how much Fani and Franz refrained from telling the full truth of their situations to one another and actually inferring things weren’t that bad. I realize this was a gesture to protect the other but felt this a contradiction with Franz’ desire to live and be in alignment with his sense of what was true.

A question I am asking myself is what I might have done in similar circumstance and more importantly how and where do I seek to come from. Where do I manifest from? I think I know this place, but find I am weak in terms of my strength to remember and return in the midst of life.


Reflecting on the words of the two wise commenters to Terrence Malick’s “A Hidden Life” – First Impressions, I realize that I often risk falling prey to the preacher’s temptation to wrap things up and rush to resolution.

It is hard to imagine leaving a congregation of worshipers in the place I found myself  after three hours watching “A Hidden Life”. I lack Malick’s courage to leave people with difficult challenging questions churning inside. I know how much people struggle and hope they might leave our Sunday morning gathering feeling that their lives have brightened and their hearts of been lifted up. In the midst of a world that is in so much turmoil, it is hard to resist the desire to offer a little comfort and solace when the opportunity is available.

But, perhaps the real and agonizing questions Malick leaves the viewer with are in the end more honest and authentic than the preacher’s attempts to provide satisfying answers to the painful conundrums of life.

It is possible that holding the tension of unanswered, perhaps even unanswerable, questions may be a more effective passageway to depth and wisdom than any of the attempts at answers the preacher might seek to provide.