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Parents' Guide to

A Hidden Life

By Jeffrey Anderson, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Depressing but poetic story of conscientious WWII objector.

Movie PG-13 2019 174 minutes
A Hidden Life Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 13+

Based on 7 parent reviews

age 13+

A Hidden Life – Doesn’t hide its Indulgences

As with 70% of Mr Malick’s later works, this one runs forever - while telling what amounts to little more than a short story. Deeply felt, spiritual, and at times superb looking, it suffers from his trade-mark extended minimalist style. The editing is often abysmal (in need of a collaborating editor) with jarring continuity jump cuts, possibly revealing the fact many scenes were too long, with little to say, so were cut down to serve their purpose. To some, this may look trendy but for many, it may be shoddy to look at. On paper, this potent story would have looked impressive - yet the final result on screen will reflect only a small percentage of its power. For a fact-based story, it amazed me that the cruel German prison system allowed any letters to be written, let alone sent. I’d have also assumed any that were forwarded would have been heavily censored – in this situation that appears not to be the case. Characters often come and go with little introduction, so acute concentration is required. Thankfully, the last half is a little more structured than the somewhat messy first – this helps to follow the shockingly harsh struggle this tragic fellow was forced to endure. His wife and children are left battling the elements and unfriendly village neighbours, as they attempt to survive by working their farm without him. Sadly, it seems the local church did little to support his unfairly ostracized family, giving poor acknowledgement of his strong Catholic faith and the family’s church service in years prior. Appears the Catholic Church shamefully colluded with the Nazi war machine too often. This is sad indeed. Germany was determined to take control by force but force devoid of love was bound to fail. Festivals and those who like Terrence Malick’s ‘style’ may last the way over-long distance but others may tune out early on. This is unfortunate, as it’s a story that deserves a better treatment. An effectively compiled music score helps carry it some of the way. Will please devotees or the patient.
age 10+

An Adult Movie Appropriate for Kids Who Find It Interesting

This movie is a serious movie about a serious subject: doing what you think is right despite overwhelming odds. *SPOILERS* There is nothing objectionable in this movie except the coercion of the protagonist by friends, neighbors, and finally the government. Despite all of this he stands his ground and does what he thinks is right. There is no sex, no drugs, etc. just a man, hounded and finally killed, for his beliefs. This story shows strong strength of character in the way that the protagonist refuses to do the wrong thing, no matter the consequences. In fact, he gave his life to stand up for what he believed in. There is no greater strength than that.

This title has:

Great messages
Great role models

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say: (7 ):
Kids say: Not yet rated

No one quite captures nature's beauty and slowness as well as Terrence Malick does, but his mastery only barely saves this three-hour-long story that's full of misery, despair, and hopelessness. Based on a true story, A Hidden Life certainly tackles important subjects, not only honoring the life and sacrifice of the real Franz Jägerstätter, but also examining mob mentality and the way that neighbor can turn on neighbor over a belief, no matter how wrong-headed that belief may be.

But Malick's drifting, exploratory filmmaking methods are a better fit for poetic impressions than for concrete stories and themes. He shows he doesn't quite have the temperament for smoothing out this story, making it flow, and providing some ups to counterbalance the downs. And the running time becomes oppressive. But there's no denying that A Hidden Life captures some truly striking small moments, such as the family playing in the grass beneath the mountains, the women harvesting crops, or men drifting around a prison yard, forbidden to speak. The late actor Bruno Ganz also makes a touching appearance as the judge who hears Franz's case.

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