Speech and Conscience in Terrence Malick’s A Hidden Life

"Genuine speech is neither violent nor servile; it is expressed as understanding, memory, and love. Nazi ideology stood in sharp contrast to what is true about our humanity; so it is no surprise that Hitler’s Reich imposed great suffering on anyone who, for reasons of conscience, refused to speak what was commanded. Still, how does one film the work of the conscience, hidden as it is? How does one capture the internal struggle to speak when confronted by the demand for conformity? Malick successfully recreates this struggle for us. While his story focuses primarily on the struggle of one historical individual, the experiences that Malick captures on film deepen our understanding of and sympathy for the precarious condition we all share."