Terrence Malick has a career in creating lavish, often sinuous portraits of imperfect but well meaning individuals. He is fascinated by the images of nature and often lingers on leaves, small animals or soil texture. His camera is often placed under the knees to extend the image to grandiose proportions. So it's not surprising that his latest movie, A hidden life, continue this trend. What may surprise some is that it is apparently a story of the Second World War, telling the story of an Austrian soldier who refuses to take an oath of loyalty to his compatriot the Fuehrer.
Suffice it to say that the rhythm of a modern Malick film is what thrills many of its fans. His dreamlike photography focuses on these small details, bringing out through the image the often contradictory inner thoughts of its protagonists. Here, the images are still bucolic, with sun-dappled hills reminiscent of Austrian rural life. There are even some clichés that evoke the majesty of the magical hour Days of Heaven, with the grain amber, the hue of fire and the light blue of the sky that make a wonderful palace.
Malick adds an epistolic touch, with voice-overs reading historical letters from some of the characters embodied in the film. These are conciliatory but thoughtful love letters between husband and wife, and words are often used to explicitly describe the events described. Franz (August Diehl) is a peasant / soldier who, when drafted, refuses to swear allegiance to Hitler. His wife Franziska (Valerie Pachner) raises her exuberant young girls while she works in the fields, unable to get help because of her husband's political position.
About fifteen minutes of narration stretch, sometimes rightly and sometimes with indulgence, to the three hours of film. The result is a disproportionate repetition, common to Malick, where wheat fields, hilly landscapes and dirty fingers suddenly blow, the intention of contemplation feels forced. Nevertheless, there is much to admire in terms of composition and, thanks to the film directed by Jörg Widmer, Malick's long-time collaborator, there is enough pastoral beauty to declare.
There is a complication concerning the central axis of the film itself, in particular taking into account the choices of realization. Dealing with the Nazis is always a heavy simplification of the barbarism of the day, and it is clear here that greater problems of humanity and sacrifice are at stake. What is disconcerting is that it actually exists. two types of members of the Nazi regime: those who speak English and those who speak only German. For the latter, it is easy to determine their intention because they are often face to face and scream. These are the prison guards and other bad guys who are two-dimensional.
For others, those for whom we are supposed to be friendly (or at least admire their adherence to the protocol) speak English. This gives the public more depth, even to military court commanders, by creating closer ties with these individuals. This sets up a Nazi dynamic opposing evil (or at least humanized) to Nazism, which echoes the film's central premise that there were honest people who stood up against tyranny with no hope of reward.
Of course, what is complicated is that every moment when an adequate Germanic justice is applied, until a "human" execution, shows the rules of law systematically denied to millions of individuals in the hands of the regime. As we are supposed to feel this jailed and stubborn man who avoids his family and refuses to give in to pressure to escape to the hospital, we can not help thinking of those who are denied any due process.
Apologists will simply consider this a secondary consequence of the main plot, but then one must ask what Malick is trying to say with this story. The character in real life was beatified and regarded as a touchstone of "all Austrians", thus showing the citizens "heartily", while many continue to downplay the Austrian roots of Hitler emerging from a culture that continues to poison xenophobia and anti-discrimination. Semitic. Should we take for granted the noble struggle of the peasant whose husband did "the good thing", or feel that his sacrifice was more selfish than healthy in spirit?
The film may be doing this kind of discussion, and it's not as if Malick was not already facing problems with representation (look at 2005). The new World for another dull tone presentation of the beloved author). This should not preclude viewing the film on its own terms, but since it seems shocking to some, and others obviously unaware that this is a problem, indicates how such narration speaks to different audiences.
In most cases, this is a return to form for Malick, at least for the post-Days of Heaven a form in which he cares less for brevity than for his ruminative meanderings. Here, there is more of a narrative hook than normal (even if the toast is spread over three hours) that people will be able to embrace its quirks without feeling lost in the metaphysical clutter . A hidden life It's a beautiful film, very long and confusing, like most of Malick's films. It is a film that will upset a lot, will be even more boring and will be ignored by a group even wider than the two together.
/ Movie Rating: 6.5 out of 10
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