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(For Day 2 of NaPoWriMo, the prompt was to reflect on a life-changing choice, so I considered the life-and-death stand of a German martyr.)

I simply stayed silent,
Not hateful nor loud.
I kept my mouth closed
When they wanted compliance.
To not join the violent,
Not follow the crowd,
To leave them opposed
Was inherent defiance.

I wonder about,
If I’d merely caved,
How easier life
Would have treated this fool.
But then I have doubt:
I might have been saved
From present-day strife,
But not God’s higher rule.

MPA rating:  PG-13

On this Good Friday, a film about martyrdom seemed apropos. I’ll admit that I’ve never seen a Terrence Malick film (potential future Blindspot picks), so there is nothing to which I can compare A Hidden Life from the same director. Yet it most reminded me of Sophie Scholl: The Final Days, since both are moving portraits of faith in the face of evil and social pressure. However, whereas Sophie Scholl was actively opposing the Nazis, the subject of A Hidden Life simply refused to yield to their demands, proving to be a timely hero in this age where even mild disagreement can spark undue censure.

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Franz Jägerstätter (August Diehl), declared a Blessed by the Catholic Church in 2007, is a poor farmer in the mountains of Austria, faced with a choice when Hitler annexes his country in the Anschluss. Required to take an oath of allegiance to the Fuhrer, Jägerstätter balks, despite overwhelming pressure from his village and even his church to comply. His quiet steadfastness as he nears the inevitable end recalls the passion of Christ as he and his wife (Valerie Pachner) question the morality of a stand that none but God would remember, or so they thought.

Malick’s celebrated visual artistry elevates the poignant story even more with absolutely gorgeous cinematography that takes full advantage of the alpine setting. Almost every shot could be framed on my wall as a piece of art, which makes it criminal that the film didn’t get a single Oscar nomination. While I loved so much about the film, its epic length is sadly a big detriment, the pace slow and methodical across nearly three hours. It’s a spiritually rich, contemplative film that heightens its emotions as it progresses, but I was quite ready for it to be over when the credits rolled. A Hidden Life is a superb masterpiece of the human conscience; it just could have benefited from a little more editing.

Best line: (Franz’s father-in-law) “Better to suffer injustice than to do it.”

Rank:  List Runner-Up

© 2021 S.G. Liput
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