Since the mid-2000s, when he ended his post-Thin Red Line hiatus, Terrence Malick movies can be separated into two categories: masterpiece or unwatchable. The New World and The Tree of Life, which is bound to appear on numerous best movies of the 2010s lists: masterpieces. But To the Wonder, Knight of Cups, and especially Song to Song: unwatchable. My butt still hurts from sitting through all seven hours (or so it seemed) of Song to Song.
Based on the early word out of Cannes Film Festival, Malick’s new film, A Hidden Life, sounds like it belongs in the “masterpiece” category. The historical drama, starring August Diehl as an Austrian farmer who refuses to fight with the Nazis during World War II, is a “work of genius,” an “intensely romantic work of art,” and a “shatteringly powerful story of faith in crisis.” No one owns “poetic” and “meticulous” — or people walking through fields — like Terrence Malick.
Here’s the official plot summary:
Based on real events, from writer-director Terrence Malick, A HIDDEN LIFE is the story of an unsung hero, Franz Jägerstätter, who refused to fight for the Nazis in World War II. When the Austrian peasant farmer is faced with the threat of execution for treason, it is his unwavering faith and his love for his wife Fani and children that keeps his spirit alive.
A Hidden Life opens on December 13.