October 6, 2020

IOTA Forum: Jack Louis Pappas reviews A Hidden Life, film by Terrence Malick

Managing Director’s Note: Terrence Malick is widely regarded as one of the most theologically sensitive and contemplative filmmakers of our time, and such films as his Tree of Life have already been the subject of theological as well as cinematographic inquiry. For this first film review for the IOTA Forum, we consider his most recent film, A Hidden Life, to see how this medium might capture and amplify theological themes of interest to Orthodox viewers.

With his scaffold, ladder, brushes, smock, and paint, a local artisan labors to restore the faded and sun-bleached iconography of his modest parish church while a young man watches beside him. “I help the people imagine that if they lived in Christ’s time, they wouldn’t have done what the others did,” he whispers to the young man. “I paint their comfortable Christ with a halo over his head. We love him. That’s enough. Someday, I’ll paint a true Christ.”

The young man whom the artisan addresses is Franz Jägerstätter. The year is 1940. In less than four years, Jägerstätter will be executed for his refusal to swear an oath of loyalty to Adolf Hitler.

A Hidden Life, Terrence Malick’s latest film, may well be interpreted as his own attempt to present a portrait of the true Christ, a Christ who remains anonymous to all those around him....

Read Jack Louis Pappas's full review here.

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