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Links to our threads on Badlands, Days of Heaven, The Thin Red Line, The New World, The Tree of Life, To the Wonder, Knight of Cups, Voyage of Time, Weightless.

Terrence Malick is going to make another WWII film, this time about an Austrian conscientious objector. The working title is Radegund:

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According to The Film Stage and several German news sources, the director will head to World War II for his next movie in order to tell the true story of Franz Jägerstätter, an Austrian solider who became a conscientious objector during World War II and was sentenced to death at age 36 for his actions. “Inglourious Basterds” star August Diehl is set to play Jägerstätter.

The film is currently titled “Radegund” and is set to begin shooting at Studio Babelsberg in Potsdam, Germany this summer. 

Malick seems to be working at a near-frenzied pace these days.

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And Mel Gibson has a World War II movie about a real-life (American) conscientious objector coming out later this year. If only Malick didn't spend eons in post-production...

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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  • 7 months later...

First image. Apparently this film is slated for a 2017 release. It also has a few cast members:

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"Radegund” tell the true story of Franz Jägerstätter (portrayed by August Diehl), an Austrian solider who became a conscientious objector during World War II and was sentenced to death at age 36 for his actions. The script was written by Malick and is told through a series of real wartime letters between Jaegerstaetter and his wife. Matthias Schoenaerts, Michael Nyqvist, Alexander Fehling and Jürgen Prochnow co-star.

 

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  • 1 month later...

By the way, if anyone wants to vote for Franz Jagerstatter in this year's edition of Lent Madness, you can on Wednesday. (Lent Madness, aka the saintly smackdown, is an online Lenten devotional in the form of a bracket style tournament with winners determined by online vote. A&F thread here.)

Of course, Jagerstatter is up against Joan of Arc, a fitting matchup in that both were martyred for their Christian convictions by wartime political forces.

In terms of films, it's Radegund vs. The Passion of Joan of Arc (or Bresson's Trial, but I prefer Passion).

Classic Dreyer vs. highly-anticipated Malick! What a choice!

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  • 2 years later...

Time to update the thread. The movie's new title is A Hidden Life.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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  • 8 months later...

So...um...possible spoilers maybe sorta (assuming you know nothign about the film or setting of the film.) 

Here's what I wrote on Letterbox'd:
 

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I am a respectful visitor to the church of Malick, but I'll never be one of the congregation. 

His editing style drives me nuts (those sort of incongrous cuts within a scene while voice over is constant), and I usually measure my impatience by intervals between when I look at my watch. 

But that's form --- I don't like his *style.* He executes it to perfection, and here there is enough story for me to be invested in. 

I guess among the primary things I don't get is how the ethereal qualities seem to prettify the suffering. He shows me a couple things that are horrific, but the way scenes are elided, there is a kind of abstraction to the suffering that distances me from it. Perhaps that is intentional. Plenty of art adopts a distant or detached point of view. (Hmmm...maybe Malick is to cinema as Henry James is to the novel.) 

There are here (as there are in all Malick films) some astonishingly beautiful shots and moments. The simplicity of the voice-over and the serenity of the lead actors creates a sort of power...but I keep coming back to that other-world quality. Perhaps there are saints who are just different from us...but I dont' think that is the meaning of the George Eliot quote and hence I don't think it is what Malick is going for. I think it is supposed to be about the heroic deeds of ordinary, unremembered people.

Like Dark Waters, this is a film for our time in that it eschews triumphal resolutions and challenges viewers of face to see/find meaning outside of results in this world. A great theology lesson...still a bit of a slog for a movie.

 

 

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This is the first Malick film that I unabashedly love, so much so that I suspect it'll get my #2 spot on my Best of 2019 list.  Comparing it to the other two 180 minute films I saw this year, Never Look Away breezed past in comparison, while The Irishman dragged.  I'll gladly watch this again.

I was probably primed for this film and its theme by just finishing Catherine Clinton's biography of Harriet Tubman, which led me to wonder where the virtuous lawbreakers are today in the west's "othering" of non-whites (whether in Trumplandia, Brazil, eastern Europe, or Britain).  As such, the painter's comment to Jagerstatter about the church creating plenty of admirers but very few followers of Christ struck a nerve.  (As a non-believer, this obviously doesn't involve following Jesus, but emulating virtuous, sacrificial people like Paul Watson, Mstislav Rostropovich, or Tubman.)

I didn't see Malick as prettifying the suffering, but rather, that he wasn't going to wallow in it, Mel Gibson style.  Given my feelings about Mel, I'm quite relieved about this.

Likewise, I felt that the Jagerstatters were only otherworldly in terms of the era they live in.  It's hard to relate to a culture in which failing to give the right salute would lead to execution, or a world nearly void of electric amenities.  I felt they were humanized richly (helping a lady with her suitcase on a train, roughhousing with their kids but other times feeling irritated by them, words sometimes expressed but other times left hanging unspoken between them, etc.).  They were exceptional humans, but in an attainable way. 

And golly, that music, my favorite at the movies this year.  I loved the main theme, as well as the accompanying pieces by Gorecki, Schnittke, Bach, Dvorak, and Part.

My full review: https://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularcinephile/2019/12/a-hidden-life-is-nearly-perfect/

Edited by Andrew

To be an artist is never to avert one's eyes.
- Akira Kurosawa

https://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularcinephile/

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I'm also surprised by how much I loved this film, Andrew. I'm hesitant to say this out loud on this forum, but to me the most radical (and timely) aspect of this film is the way it draws a direct line between religious practice and fascism. Those trademark Malick shots of ornate cathedrals read to me, within the context of this film, as awesome and grotesque. Remove God from the equation (and I'm not saying anyone should), and this is a remarkable film about the rituals and politics of tribalism.

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kenmorefield wrote:
There are here (as there are in all Malick films) some astonishingly beautiful shots and moments. 

As I said on Twitter a few months ago, I found the cinematography *amateurish* at times, the way it was clear no one had a clue where to go or what to do, they were just going to get in actors' faces and then pull back and let Malick sort it all out (or not) in the editing room. I see that Richard Brody also called the cinematography "unusually effortful" (a point he expands on in his longer review).

I was also struck by the inconsistency in the dialogue -- the actors speak English when The Director Wants Us To Understand What They're Saying, and then they speak German when they're Just Providing Visual Wallpaper For The Voiceovers -- and what it suggested about the way the film was *planned* ahead of time, and how that may or may not be a departure from Malick's previous methodology, where basically *everything* was up for grabs in the editing room and no one could assume anything while the film was being shot. (Brody goes even further and suggests that the English dialogue is given to the "heroes" while the German dialogue goes to the "villains".)

Also interesting, from Brody, in light of the fact that Mel Gibson has been mentioned in this thread:

  • Yet in “A Hidden Life” Malick’s merely illustrative and forcedly expressive approach to his subject—complete with studio Nazis from Central Casting (who bark in German, while Franz and Fani speak to each other in English), shots of natural splendor that are numbingly nonspecific and pictorial, and performances that leave no room for ambiguity, contemplation, or mere presence—culminates in a sequence of heavily intended exaltation, a death scene of such leaden bombast and overwrought vagueness as to turn its sacred simplicity into a self-parody. The representation of the torments that Franz endures in the course of his years of opposition and months of imprisonment—which fill nearly two hours of screen time—has the arm’s-length glorification of suffering, the revelling in agony, that marks Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ.”

For what it's worth.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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18 hours ago, Darren H said:

I'm also surprised by how much I loved this film, Andrew. I'm hesitant to say this out loud on this forum, but to me the most radical (and timely) aspect of this film is the way it draws a direct line between religious practice and fascism. Those trademark Malick shots of ornate cathedrals read to me, within the context of this film, as awesome and grotesque. Remove God from the equation (and I'm not saying anyone should), and this is a remarkable film about the rituals and politics of tribalism.

Wow.  Considering that the priestly characters are ambivalent figures at best, and the comments in SDG's review about the well-documented complicity of the RC Church in the rise of Nazism, I don't think that's an unfair assessment.  It also meshes with the comments that the painter (clearly a stand-in for Malick) makes to Franz, about the sacred images in the church portraying a "comfortable Christ."  In Bonhoeffer fashion, he states that no one wants reminding of the hard choices that Christ makes of his followers.  Damning stuff, in that time and any time.

Your comment also resonates with my own responses when visiting churches that have centuries of history undergirding them.  At times, I've been swept away (seeing the 4th century baptismal fonts excavated in Geneva, hearing Brahm's German Requiem performed in St Malo's cathedral); at other times, I've felt outraged (the 18th C mission in San Francisco with its whitewashing of their role in Native American extermination, and its photo exhibit of John Paul II visiting AIDS sufferers while neglecting to mention the Church's shunning of the LGBT community).  In the latter case, grotesque is not too strong a word.

10 hours ago, Peter T Chattaway said:

I was also struck by the inconsistency in the dialogue -- the actors speak English when The Director Wants Us To Understand What They're Saying, and then they speak German when they're Just Providing Visual Wallpaper For The Voiceovers -- and what it suggested about the way the film was *planned* ahead of time, and how that may or may not be a departure from Malick's previous methodology, where basically *everything* was up for grabs in the editing room and no one could assume anything while the film was being shot. (Brody goes even further and suggests that the English dialogue is given to the "heroes" while the German dialogue goes to the "villains".)

In the words of the immortal Ron Burgundy, I'll "agree to disagree" with Brody.  I did wonder about the English and German language usage.  At first, I speculated that Malick was using the harsher, choppy cadences of German to underscore Nazi brutality, just as the narrower aspect ratio of the historical B&W footage nicely mirrors the narrowed worldview of Nazism.  But I noticed that Franz and Fani spoke (and I think, sang) in German in a couple of scenes, which I took to mean that the essential dialogue was in English, while the non-essential was in German.  I think this quite effectively sharpens our attention as viewers.

To be an artist is never to avert one's eyes.
- Akira Kurosawa

https://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularcinephile/

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11 hours ago, Peter T Chattaway said:

kenmorefield wrote:
There are here (as there are in all Malick films) some astonishingly beautiful shots and moments. 

As I said on Twitter a few months ago, I found the cinematography *amateurish* at times, the way it was clear no one had a clue where to go or what to do, they were just going to get in actors' faces and then pull back and let Malick sort it all out (or not) in the editing room. I see that Richard Brody also called the cinematography "unusually effortful" (a point he expands on in his longer review).

 

Peter, these two takes don't seem to me to be in conflict with each other. "Cinematography" is more than just individual shots, right?

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kenmorefield wrote:
Peter, these two takes don't seem to me to be in conflict with each other. "Cinematography" is more than just individual shots, right?

Well, there's no necessary conflict between *some* shots being beautiful and *some* shots being amateurish. The former tend to be scenic nature shots and the like, while the latter tend to be anything involving actors (I find myself reminded of SCTV's parody of 3D movies and how the camera kept swooping in and out of John Candy's face).

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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