Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Majesty shmajesty.

A Hidden Life (2019) - Malick
Screen Shot 2020-06-15 at 4.01.54 PM
His abstract visual poetry of two previous films that left many of his pre-Tree of Life fans in the cold, Terence Malick is sort of back in a straight narrative world with A Hidden Life. Based on a true story of a farmer named Frantz, a conscientious objector in Nazi Austria during WWII. It is a slim and simple film stretched out for almost 3 hour running time. "Injustice is better being suffered than do", says one of the characters in the film. Frantz believed what is right and couldn't bring up to himself to pledge his loyalty to Hitler. He and his family were ostracized by their community and religious leaders for not conforming. And worse, called traitors. The theme rings resonant now with all the horrors that are happening everywhere in the world. Franz Jägerstätter was deified by Pope Benedict XVI (yes that pope who called it quit) into sainthood. His portrait of nature and that of a higher power is admirable. And it's beautiful in its Malickian way as usual. The Austrian Alps is breathtaking in his wide-angle cinematography (by German cinematographer Jörg Widmer). A Hidden Life should be seen on the big screen to experience its majesty.

I admire Malick's world view and his philosophy in general and his use of it in his beautifully photographed, elegant films. But we know that the world we live in now is not that simple. Evils of the world is not that cleanly and conveniently defined. It is not anyone's fault but ours that we live in a complicated society where morality is as murky as milk in tea. Malick's world view, that of the boomers, is nostalgia ridden, black and white world of yesteryears. And clocking at 172 minutes, it's way too long even with all the pretty pictures.

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