August 13, 2019

Terrence Malik Stands Up to Nazis (and Shoots Digital) In 'A Hidden Life' Trailer

The trailer for A Hidden Life reveals a Terrence Malick movie with plot and more gorgeous cinematography. How does he do it? 

For some time, we went decades without a new Malick movie and now it seems like they're popping up all over the place. Since Tree of Life planted the seeds, we've entered into the director's most prolific period. The last few movies have been mixed bags, hwoever. They've all been beautiful to look out but none of them have broken out the way Tree of Life did with critics and at the box office. 

So why are we excited about this first trailer for Malick's A Hidden Life?  Because this one seems to have his incredible trademark visuals as well as a ton of story. Oh, and it's another WWII movie from the auteur. 

Check out the trailer from Fox Searchlight and we'll talk what he's shooting on and the plot after. 

“If our leaders, if they are evil, what does one do?”

This is the question asked by the central character in A Hidden Life, which is written and directed by Terrence Malick and stars August Diehl, Valerie Pachner, and Michael Nyqvist. It's based on the true story of conscientious objector Franz Jägerstätter, who refuses to fight for the Nazis in World War II. 

The movie had its World Premiere in competition at the 72nd Festival de Cannes this year and was greeted with highly favorable reviews. 

IndieWire named “A Hidden Life” one of the 10 best titles at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival. And the esteemed film critic David Ehrlich hailed the movie, saying, “A Hidden Life is a lucid and profoundly defiant portrait of faith in crisis."

IndieWire also debuted this poster for the film. 

So what's different about this movie? 

Instead of collaborating with usual cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, Malick shot this movie with DP Jörg Widmer, who had been a camera operator on some of his other films in the 2010s. Welcome to the big league, kid. Get ready to get your fluid camera movements going. 

Although we only have a trailer to look at, it seems like Malick continues his efforts to make things look more real and relatable. He's spoken about his desire to make movies look more like real life. so how can he achieve such feats? 

His work with digital instead of film seems to be a new hook for him. 

If you scroll through the technical specs, you can see that shooting in 8K makes the images feel as clear as eyesight. Projecting them in 4K should deliver the nuance and perfection that makes us feel like we're in every scene. The same goes with his ongoing use of natural light. 

Malick doesn't speak too much about these choices, but in 2016, the reclusive filmmaker did give a talk at Princeton. There, he offered his insights on the current era of digital filmmaking. 

As reported by The Film Stage:

"Malick expressed deeply mixed feelings about the age of digital cinema and the increasingly accessible technology that comes with it. On the one hand, he indicated great enthusiasm for the capacity of cheap and easily available HD cameras to democratize the form, making entry into image-making almost as easy as writing. Likewise, he’s taken an interest in the opportunity for new images and movements that can be captured by digital equipment, specifically naming the GoPro camera used for certain sequences in 'Knight of Cups.' At the same time, he was adamant about the unique and irreplaceable power of the big screen to realize cinema’s full capacity – something he fears may be threatened by the propagation of handheld, digital video-playing devices and home theaters. "

It will be certainly interesting to see how Malick uses all the new tech at his disposal to tell another story in WWII, an era usually defined by gritty and grainy film images. Hidden Life, accentuated by realism, seems to go against every other World War II notion espoused by other directors. There's no rush toward blue hues or sepia tones. 

Just raw, real-life footage. 

While this project does feel like a direct link to his treatment of war in The Thin Red Line, it will certainly be an interesting companion piece once audiences can feast their eyes upon it. 

Technical Specs for A Hidden Life

Runtime: 2 hr 53 min

Sound Mix:  |  | 

Aspect Ratio: 2.35 : 1

Camera: Red Epic Dragon, Zeiss Master Prime Lenses & Red Epic-W Helium 8K S35, Zeiss Master Prime Lenses

Negative Format: Redcode RAW

Cinematographic Process: Digital Intermediate (4K) (master format) Redcode RAW (6K) (8K) (source format)

Printed Film Format: D-Cinema

A Hidden Life hits theaters December. 13.

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2 Comments

I knew there would come a time in the evolution of digital cinema when the image gets too sharp.
To my old-school eyes, Malick's new movie no longer looks like film, but approaches the 'soap opera' look. It's a shame to waste such an enthralling story on, what looks to me like an afternoon TV offering.

August 14, 2019 at 11:31AM

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Lee Albright
Owner-Albright Films
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Oh goodness, are we doing THIS again? You just watched a compressed YouTube video and you are blaming one of the most "filmic" directors of the "soap opera" look? It has a distinct GoPro look to it, that i will give you, since it is basically shot with a 14 or 16mm lens, but that is what makes those images feel more relatable when viewed on a large screen. It isn't interlaced footage, it isn't 30p, it has a wide dynamic range, and i bet that when you see it in theater you will forget about it being too sharp.

August 15, 2019 at 5:20PM

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