A Hidden Life Movie Poster

Trivia for A Hidden Life

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  • This is Terrence Malick's first feature film without cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki since The New World (2005). However, the German steadycam operator of the feature films shot by Lubezki, Jörg Widmer, took his place.
  • The first Terrence Malick movie since The New World (2005) to have a linear narrative.
  • Terrence Malick's second WWII period film after The Thin Red Line (1998).
  • The cast features only European actors mostly from the German-speaking countries Austria, Switzerland and Germany.
  • Not only is this film about World War II and the Nazi regime, it also features two actors who famously played Adolf Hitler: Bruno Ganz played the character in Downfall (2004) and Martin Wuttke in Inglourious Basterds (2009).
  • A Hidden Life (2019) will be the first Terrence Malick movie in his whole career not to use Jack Fisk as production designer/art director and his first (feature) film since The Thin Red Line (1998) not to use Jacqueline West as costume designer.
  • Michael Nyqvist's and Bruno Ganz's last film, after their respective deaths in 2017 and 2019.
  • The movie had not even a release date, when two of the main actors (Michael Nyqvist and Bruno Ganz) have passed away.
  • The film was previously titled "Radegund."
  • A Hidden Life will make its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival in May, bringing Terrence Malick back to the event for the first time since winning the Palme d'Or with "The Tree of Life" in 2011.
  • Speaking at Washington D.C.'s Air and Space Museum in April 2017, Terrence Malick teased "A Hidden Life" would mark a return to a more narrative-driven storytelling structure after the looseness of "Song to Song" and "Knight of Cups."
  • Terrence Malick spent almost three years editing this film.
  • Thomas Merton, the famed Trappist monk and peace activist, included a chapter about Franz Jägerstätter in his book Faith and Violence (1968).
  • Franz Jägerstätter's case was a topic of the annual Braunauer Zeitgeschichte-Tage (The Braunau Contemporary History Days) conference in 1995.
  • The film takes its title from the last sentence of Middlemarch by George Eliott: "... for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs."
  • The picture draws on Franz Jägerstätter's exchange of letters with his wife Franziska, or Fani, edited by Erna Putz and published in English by Orbis Books.
  • The story was little known outside St. Radegund, and might never have been discovered, were it not for the research of Gordon Zahn, an American, who visited the village in the 1970s.
  • The Jägerstätters lived in St. Radegund, a small village of 500 people in Upper Austria, near Salzburg and the German border-in the same province where Hitler was born and spent his early youth-not far from Berchtesgaden, his mountain retreat during his years as head of the German state.
  • Shot in eight weeks in July and August of 2016, the production spent 24 days in South Tyrol, the northernmost province of Italy, then moved into Austria itself, shooting for a few days in St. Radegund itself. For the prison scenes, the production spent the last 14 days in Zittau (7) and Berlin (7), Germany. Supervising art director Steve Summersgill says the locations were carefully selected for their texture, authenticity and visual scope. The film shot in churches and cathedrals, farms with real live stock, orchards, up mountains, in fields and along rural pathways. A few scenes were shot in the St. Radegund locations where the events depicted actually took place-including certain interiors of the Jägerstätter house, which has over the years become a pilgrimage site, as well as by the Salzach river near St. Radegund and in the woods below the house.
  • The bedroom in the film is Jägerstätters' and looks as it did then. Fani's embroidery still hangs on the walls. Franz and Fani's three daughters-Maria, Rosalia and Aloisa-live in, or near, St. Radegund. Fani passed away in 2013, aged 100.
  • Valerie Pachner, the actress who plays Fani, grew up in the same province 40 miles away.
  • A few scenes were set at the farmhouse of a Jägerstätter friend and neighbor, Eckinger.
  • Today, the fields around St. Radegund are covered in corn, a crop that was not grown at the time, as well as with power lines and modern houses, some immediately adjacent to the Jägerstätter's own. As a result, the production was obliged to go higher up into the mountains than where the village itself lies.
  • The production also filmed the 3rd Reich Berlin court trial scene in Schoenberg in the infamous Kammergericht building.
  • Artificial lights only used on rare occasions during shooting. For all the other sets, including the prison cells, the team simply used the right time of the day to shoot it until they lost the light.
  • According to production designer Sebastian T. Krawinkel, when it comes to the lightning Terrence Malick' dogma was "the sun is our gaffer".
  • The production was shot digitally on the Red Epic Dragon camera system. The camera was selected for its ability to handle stark contrast within a scene, preserving details in both the highlights and shadows of the image, while still maintaining realistic color.
  • According to August Diehl, who plays Franz Jägerstätter, he treated the letters, which were sort of source material for the the script, between the husband and wife almost like another script alongside Malick's.
  • During pre-production, Terrence Malick sent Valerie Pachner, who stars opposite Diehl as Fani, Jägerstätter's wife, a book about women in the first World War working on the farms when the men were away fighting.
  • In addition to his work as a farmer, Franz Jägerstätter served as a sexton at the local church. He cleaned, rang the bell, and prepared weddings and funerals-without compensation and in addition to his duties as a farmer.
  • The film's composer James Newton Howard says scoring the film was a highly collaborative process. One of the early ideas Terrence Malick brought to Howard, was to incorporate sounds he had captured during production such as church bells from the villages, cow and sheep bells, the saw mill, sounds from the prison, and scythes in the fields. As a result, Howard took many of those sounds and processed them into musical elements that are woven throughout the score.
  • The composer James Newton Howard began his process after Terrence Malick sent him a series of short clips from the film without any sound or music.
  • According to James Newton Howard, he felt his composition was best to reflect the vistas of St. Radegund. Accordingly for Howard, the solo violin throughout the film embodies the connection between two main characters in the film.
  • Joerg Widmer previously worked with Terrence Malick as his Steadicam operator on his previous five films and stepped into the filmmaker's long-time collaborator Emmanuel Lubezki's shoes for A Hidden Life.
  • Valerie Pachner, says in all her years of performing she has never come across a process like the one Malick uses to get the performance out of his cast. She also describes Malick as "very respectful, very humble and kind and also radical. Radical in the way that he's following his thoughts and his way of seeing things all the time."
  • Joerg Widmer notes on the final shooting day, "there was a 15 minute long applause from the actors and technicians to show how much they had enjoyed being a part of the crew."
  • As an interesting irony, Terrence Malick translated "The Essence of Reasons" by Martin Heidegger from German into English. As opposed to Franz Jägerstätter, Heidegger didn't say "no" to the Nazis.
  • During a shooting in Radegund, at the actual house of Jägerstätters, both August Diehl and Valerie Pachner had met with the daughters of Franz and Fani's -Maria, Rosalia and Aloisa- who still live in the same village that their parents had lived.
  • A couple of days before the world premiere of A Hidden Life in Cannes Film Festival, there was a special screening for the daughters of Jägerstätters at their home. According to Valerie Pachner, the three sisters satisfiedly liked the film.
  • As he secretly did in 2011 for the world premiere of The Tree of Life in Cannes Film Festival, Terrence Malick, once again, on a very rare occasion, showed up for the screening of A Hidden Life in Cannes. Naturally, he avoided press coverage. However, at the traditional RANG I video at the festival which contains the immediate after of the screening, at times a short speech from directors and mostly the reaction of the audience, Terrence Malick is seen from the wide angle.
  • According to Valeri Pachner, the movie's spiritualism "comes from a simple place," that is, from a strong connection that two characters have with each other and from the world they live in. For Pachner, the most spiritual thing is their connection, which is love.
  • August Diehl described Terrence Malick's process as "search mode". According to Diehl, Malick invites his actors on a search -something not to an answer but to a question.
  • The actors went back for repeated voice-over recordings, as the movie changed radically over time.
  • According to August Diehl, Terrence Malick didn't want to portray Franz Jägerstätter as a hero or a preacher.
  • The shooting crew numbered around 30.
  • Pre-production lasted 10 weeks, followed by an eight-week shoot, with the rest of the nearly-three -year-time in Terrence Malick's post-production facility in Austin.
  • According to producer Grant Hill, the editing is a big puzzle for Terrence Malick as he pulls and exchanges different sequences constantly.
  • At 2 hours and 53 minutes, A Hidden Life is Terrence Malick's longest film.
  • The genesis of A Hidden Life dates back to when Grant Hill, producer, met Terrence Malick during The Thin Red Line 30-plus years ago. What was key before Malick began shooting A Hidden World in 2016 was meeting with the surviving daughters of Jägerstätter, now, as of 2019, in their 80s.

Spoilers

  • Franz Jägerstätter was declared a martyr and beatified by Pope Benedict XVI in June 2007. His feast day is the day of his christening, 21 May.
  • Franz Jägerstätter was a conscientious objector to World War II who was guillotined by the Third Reich in 1943. He was 36 years old at the time.
  • Franz Jägerstätter's fate was not well known until 1964, when US sociologist Gordon Zahn published his biography, In Solitary Witness.
  • The death sentence of Franz Jägerstätter was nullified by the Landgericht Berlin, a regional court in Berlin, on 7 May 1997.
  • A Stolperstein, a concrete cube bearing a brass plate inscribed with the name and life dates of victims of Nazi extermination or persecution, for Franz Jägerstätter in Sankt Radegund, Upper Austria was laid in 2006. Sankt Radegund is the place where he was born.
  • Franz Jägerstätter's natural father was killed in World War I when he was still a child, and when his mother married in 1917, Franz was adopted by her husband, Heinrich Jägerstätter.
  • When German troops moved into Austria in March 1938, Franz Jägerstätter rejected the offered position as Radegund mayor. He was the only person in the village to vote against the Anschluss in the plebiscite of 10 April.
  • On 9 August 1943, before being executed, Franz Jägerstätter wrote: "If I must write... with my hands in chains, I find that much better than if my will were in chains. Neither prison nor chains nor sentence of death can rob a man of the Faith and his free will. God gives so much strength that it is possible to bear any suffering.... People worry about the obligations of conscience as they concern my wife and children. But I cannot believe that, just because one has a wife and children, a man is free to offend God".
  • As Gordon Zahn describes in his book, In Solitary Witness: The Life and Death of Franz Jägerstätter, Franz Jägerstätter "came from a social background that one would ordinarily not associate with such an overtly rebellious act" unlike some other conscientious objectors. Jägerstätter was a peasant living and working in the small upper Austrian village of St. Radegund. A farmer struggling to survive in a village of farmers struggling to survive, when Jägerstätter was "presented with his orders to serve in a war he considered unjust-a war, moreover, which he felt would serve the evil purposes of an intrinsically immoral political regime-refused to comply, and in his refusal accepted the death he knew would follow."
  • At the Mass of his beatification in 2007 in his native Austria, Franz Jägerstätter was remembered as a normal, everyday person with faults. Sometimes he took his faith lightly. He chased after girls, rode a motorcycle, and fathered a child outside of marriage.
  • Franz Jägerstätters was beheaded in Brandenburg prison with 16 others on August 9, 1943. After the war, a group of nuns brought his ashes to his home village, Sankt Radegund, Upper Austria.
  • The title card at the end of the picture comes from the final sentence of George Eliot's "Middlemarch".
  • The clock visible on the wall of the Jägerstätter living room is the one that Fani was listening to when, at 4 in the afternoon on August 9, 1943, at the very hour of Franz's execution, she remembered feeling her husband's presence.
  • When, in 1944, Lueben, the principal judge in Franz's case (played by Bruno Ganz), was asked to condemn three priests from Stettin as he had Franz, he chose instead to commit suicide.
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