Sunday, September 06, 2020

Want to see a good movie? Here's one I saw today and recommend

It's called "A Hidden Life," and was made last year by director Terrence Malick. It is almost 3 hours long -- and speaks perfectly to the times we are in, though it is based on a true story that took place in Hitler's Germany/Austria during WWII.  The cinematography is incredibly beautiful!  If you have never visited Austria, prepare to be visually overwhelmed by beautiful natural scenes that will take your breath away. Almost every scene in this movie is like a perfect painting (some reminded me of Van Gogh's paintings of farm workers and house interiors) -- with light, shadows, color, and visual depth that evokes feelings of being a participant, rather than a member of the audience. The little vignettes of life events in a little Alpine village are so realistically depicted, the viewer feels as though he is in the movie, living it along with the characters. You can almost feel wet spray on your face as the characters walk by fast-splashing water being turned by a mill wheel.

The parallels between the main character's dilemma, determined by having to live in a country where Hitler is the leader -- and our own time and dilemma with our similar leader in the White House are very clear to see.  Plus, the existential questions the film delves into are the same ones that have been asked by humans throughout history -- and are ones that we are asking today. 

In the review below, the main character is compared to Bartleby the Scrivener from Herman Melville's short story, and yes there are times in the story when I wanted to shout at him in frustration that there are other ways you can do this!   It's a slow-paced movie but oh so worth the viewing, if only for the treat of seeing the majestic, idyllic beauty of the Austrian Alps and the meadowlands below them.  Add in the story (a true one) and you have a memorably magnificent movie -- one that will stay with you because of the deep questions it presents about life and love and the principles we hold dear. The acting is superb, too, for every character!   Highly recommended!

You can view a short video preview of the movie at:

and read a long written review of it at:

EXCERPT from the review:

The phenomenon of ordinary citizens investing their pride, their sense of self-worth, and (in the case of men) their fantasy of machismo in the person of a single government figure is one that many nations, including the United States, understand well. Malick doesn't give interviews, but I don't think we'd need one to understand why he would release a film like this in 2019, at a time when the United States is being torn apart over the issue of obedient support of an authority figure, and have the dialogue alternate German with English. But the film is rich and sturdy enough to transcend the contemporary one-to-one comparisons that it is sure to invite—and it's not as if we haven't seen this scenario elsewhere, before and after World War II, or will never see it again. The social dynamics presented here are timeless.

And yet, improbably, "A Hidden Life" is a tragic story that doesn't play solely as a tragedy. The misery endured by Franz, Fani and their children is presented as a more extreme version of the pain everyone suffers as the byproduct of life on earth.