A Hidden Life (2019 film)

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A Hidden Life
Theatrical release poster
Directed byTerrence Malick
Written byTerrence Malick
Produced by
  • Elisabeth Bentley
  • Dario Bergesio
  • Grant Hill
  • Josh Jeter
CinematographyJörg Widmer
Edited by
Music byJames Newton Howard
Distributed byFox Searchlight Pictures (International)
Pandora Filmproduktion (Germany)[2]
Release date
  • May 19, 2019 (2019-05-19) (Cannes)[3]
  • December 13, 2019 (2019-12-13) (United States)
Running time
174 minutes
  • English
  • German
Budget$7–9 million[5]
Box office$4.6 million[2][6]

A Hidden Life is a 2019 epic historical drama film written and directed by Terrence Malick. It stars August Diehl, Valerie Pachner, and Matthias Schoenaerts with both Michael Nyqvist and Bruno Ganz in their final performances. The film depicts the life of Franz Jägerstätter, an Austrian farmer and devout Catholic who refused to fight for the Nazis in World War II. The title is taken from George Eliot's Middlemarch, which in turn derives it from a phrase in the New Testament, the Epistle to the Colossians 3:3: "For you died, and [now] your life is hidden with Christ in God."

The film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2019 and was theatrically released in the United States on December 13, 2019.[7] It received critical acclaim upon release and was the final feature film to be released under the Fox Searchlight Pictures name before Walt Disney Studios changed the company's name to Searchlight Pictures on January 17, 2020.


Austrian peasant farmer Franz Jägerstätter, born and brought up in the small village of St. Radegund, is working his land when war breaks out. Married to Franziska, colloquially Fani, the couple are important members of the tight-knit rural community. They live a simple life with the passing years marked by the arrival of the couple's three girls. Franz is called up for basic training in the German army and is away from his beloved wife and children for months. Eventually, when France surrenders and it seems the war might end soon, he is sent back from training.

With his mother and sister-in-law Resie, he and his wife farm the land and raise their children amid the mountains and valleys of upper Austria, cutting hay and gathering. As the war goes on, Jägerstätter and the other able-bodied men in the village are called up to fight. Their first requirement is to swear an oath of allegiance to Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich. Despite pressure from the mayor and his neighbors, who increasingly ostracize him and his family, and from the Bishop of Salzburg, Jägerstätter refuses. Wrestling with the knowledge that his decision will mean arrest and even death, he finds strength in his faith in God, his prayers, and Fani's love and support. He is taken to prison, first in Enns, then in Berlin and waits months for his trial. During his time in prison, he and Fani write letters to each other and give each other strength. Fani and their daughters are victims of growing hostility in the village over her husband's decision not to fight. Fani is eventually able to visit her husband in Berlin.

After months of brutal incarceration, Jägerstätter's case goes to trial. He is found guilty and sentenced to death. Despite many opportunities to sign the oath of allegiance, and the promise of non-combatant work, he continues to refuse and is executed by the Third Reich on August 9, 1943, while his wife and daughters survive.




On June 23, 2016, reports emerged that the film, then titled Radegund, would depict the life of Austria’s Franz Jägerstätter, a conscientious objector during World War II who was put to death at age 36 for undermining military actions, and was later declared a martyr and beatified by the Catholic Church. It was announced that August Diehl was set to play Jägerstätter and Valerie Pachner to play his wife, Franziska Jägerstätter.[8] Jörg Widmer was appointed as the director of photography, having worked in all of Malick's films since The New World (2005) as a camera operator.


Malick said A Hidden Life would have a more structured narrative than his previous works: "Lately—I keep insisting, only very lately—have I been working without a script and I've lately repented the idea. The last picture we shot, and we're now cutting, went back to a script that was very well ordered." This makes it his first linear, plot-driven film since 2005's The New World. He added, "There’s a lot of strain when working without a script because you can lose track of where you are. It’s very hard to coordinate with others who are working on the film. Production designers and location managers arrive in the morning and don’t know what we’re going to shoot or where we’re going to shoot. The reason we did it was to try and get moments that are spontaneous and free. As a movie director, you always feel with a script that you’re trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. And with no script, there’s no round hole, there’s just air. But I’m backing away from that style now."[9]

Malick obtained rights to the book Franz Jägerstätter: Letters and Writings from Prison, edited by Erna Putz, for the film.[10]


The church of St. Valentin in Seis am Schlern
The Fane Alm in Mühlbach

The film began production in Studio Babelsberg in Potsdam, Germany in summer 2016. From 11 July to 19 August 2016 the production shot on location in South Tyrol. Locations there were the church of St. Valentin in Seis am Schlern, the valley of Gsies, the village of Rodeneck, the mills in Terenten, the meadows of Albions in Lajen, the Seiser Alm, the Taufers Castle, the Fane Alm in Mühlbach, the Puez-Geisler Nature Park, the renaissance Velthurns Castle in the village of Feldthurns, the Franzensfeste Fortress, the gardens of the bishop's Hofburg in Brixen and the Neustift cloister.[11][8]

In August 2016, reports emerged that some of the film's scenes were shot in the small Italian mountain village of Sappada.[12]


Actor Franz Rogowski said in a March 2019 interview that no one knew how the film would turn out or when it would be released, considering that it had been in post-production for more than two years at that point. Rogowski added that Malick is "a director who creates spaces rather than produces scenes; his editing style is like that."[13]


The film's score is by James Newton Howard and features violinist James Ehnes, who also performed Howard's violin concerto released in 2018.[14][15] It was released by Sony Classical Records on December 6, 2019. Of the score, Howard said, "It is a spiritual-sounding score... Terry often spoke about the suffering inherent in love, and you feel yearning, suffering and love in that piece". The score features 40 minutes of original score mixed with selected classical works by Bach, Handel, Dvorak, Gorecki, Pärt and others. It was recorded at Abbey Road Studios in London in one day in June 2018 with a 40-piece string section conducted by Pete Anthony with Shawn Murphy as score mixer.[16]

All music is composed by Howard, except where noted.

A Hidden Life (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
1."A Hidden Life"2:51
2."Israel in Egypt, HWV 54, Part I, No. 16 "Chorus: And Believed The Lord"" (George Frederick Handel, Simon Preston conducting the Choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford and English Chamber Orchestra)4:25
3."Surrounded by Walls"2:53
6."Morality in Darkness"3:13
7."Love and Suffering"7:44
8."Tabula Rasa: II. Silentium" (Arvo Part, Jean-Jacques Kantorow conducting the Tapiola Sinfonietta)15:46
11."Czech Suite in D Major, Op. 39: I. Allegro Moderato" (Antonín Dvorak, Antoni Wit conducting the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra)3:54
12."Kleines Requiem für eine Polka, Op. 66: IV. Adagio Cantabile" (Henryk Górecki, Rudolf Werthen conducting the I Fiamminghi)6:25
14."There Will Be No Mysteries"4:42
Total length:69:30

Not listed

  • Henryk Górecki Symphony No. 3, Op. 36 Lento-Cantabile


A Hidden Life premiered in competition at the 72nd Cannes Film Festival on May 19, 2019.[17] The next day, it was acquired by Fox Searchlight Pictures for $12–14 million.[18][5] The film screened at the Vatican Film Library on December 4, 2019, with Malick making a rare public appearance to introduce the film.[19] It was released in limited release in the U.S. on December 13, 2019, followed by a wide release in January.[20]


On review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 81% based on 231 reviews, with an average rating of 7.4/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Ambitious and visually absorbing, A Hidden Life may prove inscrutable to non-devotees—but for viewers on Malick's wavelength, it should only further confirm his genius."[21] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 78 out of 100, based on 43 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews."[22]

Peter DeBruge of Variety writes: "Whether or not he is specifically referring to the present day, its demagogues, and the way certain evangelicals have once again sold out their core values for political advantage, A Hidden Life feels stunningly relevant as it thrusts this problem into the light."[23] Jägerstätter biographer Erna Putz was touched by the film's spirituality after a private screening in June 2019, saying that Malick had made an "independent and universal work". She also considered Diehl's and Pachner's performances to be accurate to who Franz and Franziska were ("Franz, as I know him from the letters, and Franziska, as I know from encounters").[24]


Award Date of ceremony Category Recipient(s) Result Ref(s)
Alliance of Women Film Journalists 2020 Best Cinematography Jörg Widmer Nominated
Austin Film Critics Association February 7, 2020 Austin Film Award Terrence Malick Won
Belgian Film Critics Association 28 December 2020 Grand Prix A Hidden Life Nominated [25]
Cannes Film Festival 25 May 2019 François Chalais Prize Terrence Malick Won [26]
Prize of the Ecumenical Jury Won [27]
Palme d'Or Nominated [17]
CinEuphoria Awards 2020 Best Film - International Competition Grant Hill, Dario Bergesio, Josh Jeter, Elisabeth Bentley, Terrence Malick Nominated
Best Actor - International Competition August Diehl Nominated
Best Actress - International Competition Valerie Pachner Nominated
Denver Film Critics Society January 14, 2019 Best Adapted Screenplay Terrence Malick Nominated
Diagonale 2020 Diagonale Grand Prize Terrence Malick Nominated
Faro Island Film Festival 2020 Best Motion Picture of the Year A Hidden Life Nominated
Best Achievement in Directing Terrence Malick Won
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role Valerie Pachner Nominated
Best Adapted Screenplay Terrence Malick Won
Best Cinematography Jörg Widmer Nominated
Best Production Design Sebastian T. Krawinkel Nominated
Best Visual and Sound Effects Nominated
Best Film-Audience A Hidden Life Won
Florida Film Critics Circle Awards December 23, 2019 Best Adapted Screenplay Terrence Malick Nominated [28]
Best Cinematography Jörg Widmer Nominated
Georgia Film Critics Association Awards January 10, 2020 Best Cinematography Jörg Widmer Nominated
Hawaii Film Critics Society January 13, 2020 Best Cinematography Jörg Widmer Nominated
Independent Spirit Awards February 8, 2020 Best Feature Elisabeth Bentley, Dario Bergesio, Grant Hill and Josh Jeter Nominated
International Film Music Critics Association February 20, 2020 Best Original Score For A Drama Film A Hidden Life Nominated [29][30]
Film Music Composition of the Year James Newton Howard Nominated
Motion Picture Sound Editors 2020 Outstanding Achievement in Sound Editing - Sound Effects and Foley for Feature Film Brad Engleking, Bob Kellough, David Forshee,

Dusty Albertz, Bastien Benkhelil

MovieGuide Awards February 24, 2020 Most Inspiring Movie A Hidden Life Nominated
Best Movie for Mature Audiences A Hidden Life Nominated
National Board of Review January 8, 2020 Top Ten Independent Films A Hidden Life Won
Phoenix Film Critics Society Awards December 14th, 2019 Best Cinematography Jörg Widmer Nominated
Romy Gala 2020 Favorite Actress Valerie Pachner Nominated
San Francisco Film Critics Circle December 16, 2019 Best Cinematography Jörg Widmer Nominated
Women's Image Network Awards 2020 Actress Feature Film Valerie Pachner Nominated


  1. ^ McCarthy, Todd (May 19, 2019). "'A Hidden Life': Film Review | Cannes 2019". The Hollywood Reporter. Valence Media. Retrieved May 24, 2019.
  2. ^ a b "A Hidden Life (2019)". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved 23 February 2020.
  3. ^ "The Screenings Guide 2019". May 9, 2019. Retrieved May 9, 2019.
  4. ^ a b "A Hidden Life (2019)". British Film Institute. Retrieved November 13, 2020.
  5. ^ a b D'Alessandro, Anthony (May 23, 2019). "The Epic Three-Year Journey Of Terrence Malick's 'A Hidden Life': Can Disney-Fox Searchlight Improve Auteur's B.O. Track Record? – Cannes". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved May 23, 2019.
  6. ^ "A Hidden Life (2019)". The Numbers. Retrieved February 23, 2020.
  7. ^ "Cannes festival 2019: full list of films". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 April 2019.
  8. ^ a b "Terrence Malick Announces Next Film 'Radegund,' Based on the Life of Franz Jägerstätter". The Film Stage. 2016-06-22. Retrieved 23 June 2016.
  9. ^ Sharf, Zack (6 April 2017). "Terrence Malick Vows to Return to More Structured Filmmaking: 'I'm Backing Away From That Style Now'". IndieWire. Retrieved 27 June 2017.
  10. ^ Pacatte, Rose (20 May 2019). "Terrence Malick's new film about Franz Jägerstätter premieres at Cannes". National Catholic Reporter. Cannes, France: The National Catholic Reporter Publishing Company. Retrieved 30 July 2019.
  11. ^ "La IDM FF & Commission a Cannes con Malick". Cinecittà News. Retrieved 13 August 2019.
  12. ^ "Trailer For 'The Thin Red Line' Restoration Arrives as Terrence Malick Commences 'Radegund' Shoot". The Film Stage. 11 August 2016. Retrieved 14 August 2016.
  13. ^ Elfadl, Murtada (9 March 2019). "Franz Rogowski on Playing a Ghost in 'Transit,' Disorienting the Audience, and Terrence Malick's 'Radegund'". The Film Stage. The Film Stage. Retrieved 12 March 2019.
  14. ^ "UNE VIE CACHÉE". Orange Studio. Orange Studio. Archived from the original on 23 June 2019. Retrieved 18 April 2019. bande originale : James Newton Howard
  15. ^ "One Big Soul, The Terrence Malick Community". Retrieved 18 April 2019.
  16. ^ Burlingame, Jon (December 6, 2019). "From "1917" to "Jojo Rabbit," Composers of Some of the Year's Top Scores Talk Shop". Variety. Variety Media, LLC. Retrieved December 8, 2019.
  17. ^ a b Tartaglione, Nancy; Wiseman, Andreas (April 18, 2019). "Cannes Film Festival 2019 Lineup: Malick, Almodovar, Dardennes; Four Women Directors In Competition – Full List". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved April 18, 2019.
  18. ^ Keslassy, Elsa; Lang, Brent (May 20, 2019). "Cannes: Fox Searchlight Nabs Terrence Malick's 'A Hidden Life'". Variety. Variety Media, LLC. Retrieved May 20, 2019.
  19. ^ "Terrence Malick's 'A Hidden Life' Gets Rare Vatican Screening". 5 December 2019.
  20. ^ D’Alessandro, Anthony (June 27, 2019). "Terrence Malick's 'A Hidden Life' Lands Year-End Awards Season Release". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved June 27, 2019.
  21. ^ "A Hidden Life (2019)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved October 10, 2021.
  22. ^ "A Hidden Life Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved January 5, 2020.
  23. ^ DeBruge, Peter (May 19, 2019). "Cannes Film Review: 'A Hidden Life'". Variety. Variety Media, LLC. Retrieved August 13, 2019.
  24. ^ "Berührende private Vorführung des Jägerstätter-Films "A Hidden Life" in St. Radegund". Katholische Kirche in Oberösterreich (in German). Diözese Linz Kommunikationsbüro. June 4, 2019. Retrieved July 30, 2019. „Beide Hauptpersonen sind sehr gut getroffen – Franz, wie ich ihn aus den Briefen kenne, und Franziska, wie ich sie aus Begegnungen kenne".... habe Malick ein „eigenständiges und allgemeingültiges Werk“ erschaffen
  25. ^ "Les critiques belges élisent "1917" meilleur film de l'année". Madame fait son Cinéma (in French). December 28, 2020. Retrieved December 30, 2020.
  26. ^ "72nd Annual Cannes Film Festival Held In Cannes, France From 14 To 25 May 2019". May 29, 2019. Retrieved June 7, 2019.
  27. ^ Oubrayrie, Edward. "Le Prix du Jury œcuménique 2019 décerné à 'A Hidden Life'". Jury oecumenique au Festival de Cannes. Retrieved 7 June 2019.
  28. ^ Lewis, Hilary (December 3, 2019). "'The Irishman' Named Best Film by National Board of Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved December 3, 2019.
  29. ^ "'IFMCA Award Nominations 2019'". Film Music Critics. February 6, 2020. Retrieved March 24, 2020.
  30. ^ "IFMCA Award Winners 2019". International Film Music Critics Association. February 20, 2020. Retrieved March 24, 2020.

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