Terrence Malick’s three-hour epic probes places the world of men against the call of the eternal. Based on the true story of Franz Jägerstätter (August Diehl), we find him in the secluded bucolic idyll of the Austrian mountains, surrounded by his young family. But as the Second World War rages and he is called to swear allegiance to the German army and Adolf Hitler, he refuses. So begins an agonising battle with the state, his wife (Valerie Pachner) and his own soul.
Malick refuses to find simple answers to a genuine moral dilemma, as Franz must choose between following his spiritual convictions and protecting his family. Certainly Malick’s best films since The Tree of Life, he finds transcendence in the grass, a child’s laugh and the falling of a mountain waterfall, making clear what Franz stands to lose as he swears off the mortal world.