A Hidden Life is based on the true story of Franz Jagerstatter, an Austrian farmer who refused to fight for the Nazis during World War II. He was unwilling to sign an oath of loyalty to Hitler because he believed he was an evil leader and the war itself was immoral, raiding other countries and killing innocent people. Franz was advised by his priest to submit to the civil authorities (citing Romans 13:1); his mother and friends begged him to change his mind. His lawyer offered to obtain a hospital post (alternative service) for him if he would just sign the oath. Franz finds he cannot go against his conscience, reminding me of Martin Luther’s statement at the Diet of Worms:
“ …it cannot be either safe or honest for a Christian to speak against his conscience. Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise; God help me! Amen.”
Unlike Luther, Jagerstatter is eventually tried for treason and executed.
In spite of an inspiring subject and beautiful cinematography, this movie fell flat for me. Almost three hours long, it was dull and plodding. In fairness (thinking as an English major), perhaps the intent was to convey how long and agonizing the decision to resist was. It was not easy. Franz faced not only death and imprisonment for himself, but hardship for his family. However, that doesn’t change the result — a film that could have been edifying and encouraging became simply boring.
VERDICT: I give it only 2 stars and wouldn’t recommend it.
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