Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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My Review of A HIDDEN LIFE

A Hidden Life, rated PG-13
****

A Hidden Life, now available on home video, is a powerful film based on true events about a humble and devout Austrian farmer who refused to swear an oath of loyalty to Hitler when called to serve for Germany in World War II. The film, which runs just under three hours and moves along slowly, is beautifully filmed, is thought-provoking, demonstrates the strong faith of the two lead characters, and is one of the best films I’ve seen in some time, though it was largely passed over during awards season. The film was written and directed by three-time Oscar nominee Terrence Mallick (The Tree of Life, The Thin Red Line). The title of the film comes from a line in George Eliot’s novel Middlemarch.
“..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 film is about Franz Jägerstätter, played by August Diehl (Inglorious Basterds), a Catholic Austrian farmer. Franz is married to Fani Jägerstätter played by Valerie Pachner. As the film begins, we see Franz serving in the German army, but he doesn’t see combat. During this time, he begins to believe that participation in the war would be a sin. He is allowed to return home, where he and Fani start a family that will grow to three young girls. We see them working hard on their farm, using scythes to cut wheat and bale hay, and raising livestock in the small Austrian village of St. Radegund, near the German border. Franz has a quiet but strong faith. He serves as a sexton at the local Catholic church, without pay. Franz’s mother Rosalia Jägerstätter, played by Karin Neuhäuser, and and Fani’s sister, Resie Schwaninger, played by Maria Simon, come to live with them.
When the war continues, there is fear that Franz will be called back to fight for the German army. His feelings about Hitler begin to spread when he refuses to return the Nazi salute of “Heil Hitler!” to those he passes by. As a result, he and his family begin to be ostracized by the members of the village. We feel the tension each time the bike bell rings with the rider carrying the summons to serve. Eventually, in 1943, Franz receives his notice. Continue reading


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My Review of FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, rated PG-13
*** ½

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is the second installment of a planned five film Fantastic Beasts series. The new film is exciting, intense and darker than the first. It picks up in New York, shortly after the first film ended where the evil wizard Grindelwald, played by three-time Oscar nominee Johnny Depp (Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street; Finding Neverland; Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl) has been captured and is being transferred back to the British Ministry of Magic. The film is directed by Emmy nominee David Yates (The Girl in the Café, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and four Harry Potter films).  The film is written by J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books. The film had a production budget of $200 million. The story takes place with beautiful views of New York City, London, Paris and Austria.
The film begins with an exciting and explosive scene in which Grindelwald escapes from detention while being transferred from a New York prison. In London, Newt Scamander, the “magizoologist”, played by Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything), is forbidden from leaving the country. His brother Theseus, played by Callum Turner tries to work things out for Newt, but Newt is not willing to do what is needed. Theseus is engaged to Leta Lestrange, played by Zoë Kravitz.
Newt is contacted by a young Dumbledore, played by two-time Oscar nominee Jude Law (Cold Mountain, The Talented Mr. Ripley), to help track down Credence Barebone, played by Ezra Miller (The Perks of Being a Wallflower). Credence is an Obscurial, a wizard who has repressed his magical abilities. Grindelwald is consolidating his power and has plans for wizards to take over the world. It is suspected that Credence will be recruited by Grindelwald to join his side. Newt is aided in the mission to find Credence by sidekicks returning from the first film, baker Jacob Kowalski, played by Dan Fogler, and magical Goldstein sisters Queenie, played by Alison Sudo, and Porpentina, known as Tina, played by Katherine Waterston. The battle for Credence takes place in Paris, and forms the main plot of the film, with several other subplots, included. Another major plot is to find out the true identity of Credence.
The film is visually stunning; the CGI, beasts, costumes, set design. The soundtrack by eight-time Oscar nominee James Newton Howard (Defiance, Michael Clayton, The Village) was outstanding.
The film introduces many new characters and revealed some of the backstory about some already known characters of the Harry Potter series. The film sets things up for the forthcoming films in the series. The movie also has a surprise ending.
The film has a strong cast, and there were several excellent acting performances, in particular Law, Depp, Kravitz and Redmayne, though the latter is not the main character as he was in the first film.
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is an entertaining film that lovers of the Harry Potter films will enjoy, particularly scenes that take place at Hogwarts. It is intense and darker than the first film, and will be too scary for children under 10 years of age.