August Diehl as Franz Jägerstätter in Terrence Malick's A Hidden Life
August Diehl as Franz Jägerstätter in Terrence Malick’s A Hidden Life

“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.”

— George Eliot, Middlemarch


Terrence Malick‘s A Hidden Life has debuted at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. It is the American filmmaker’s second work to be based on the events of the Second World War, and tells the story of Franz Jägerstätter, a conscientious objector who was executed by the Nazis in 1943. Writing for The Los Angeles Times, Justin Chang has praised Malick’s latest work as a return to form and “a spiritual call to arms”:

“At its simplest level, A Hidden Life exists to disprove the snarling Nazi soldiers we hear telling Franz that his act of protest is meaningless and that no one will ever remember him. (They have admittedly already been disproved, thanks to the scholarship of Gordon Zahn and Thomas Merton, as well as a 2007 papal declaration of Jägerstätter as a martyr.) But it is also a call for moral vigilance in any era, the present one very much included…”

Source: The Los Angeles Times

Set in the final days of the Third Reich, All for Nothing is a tale of national and personal defeat.
Walter Kempowski, All For Nothing
Walter Kempowski, All For Nothing

“Imagine, for a moment, a German novel about the final months of the Second World War, an epic tale of national collapse and shameful private defeat, the ruined landscape ribboned with refugees. Now imagine such a book written by a German who lived through those bitter months as a teen-ager, but written with a light touch, almost quizzically, the entire story suffused with an air of speculative detachment. I wouldn’t have thought it could be done. Then I encountered Walter Kempowski’s extraordinary novel All for Nothing (New York Review Books), first published in German in 2006, and now available in Anthea Bell’s vital translation.”

Source: The New Yorker

sebald_02

“The Institute of Cultural Inquiry, an organization devoted to project-based study of visual technologies, issued a call for submissions for critical essays and artist projects related to the work of W.G. Sebald. The overwhelming response to this call precipitated the development of this ambitious anthology [Searching for Sebald: Photography After W.G. Sebald, ed. Lise Patt].

With 632 densely populated pages, this volume presented challenges of scale, organization, and cohesion. Within four thematic sections, 38 contributors present illustrated arguments and diverse visual explorations. These are separated with editorial ‘intermezzos.’ A framing introduction with extensive illustrated footnotes establishes the complexity of this multifaceted dialogue.”

JulieFry.com

maurice-blanchot
Maurice Blanchot

On 2 February, the ICA is hosting the third symposium of Maladies of the Book, focussing specifically on the work of the post-war French writer and literary critic Maurice Blanchot:

“Starting from his late reflections on passivity in The Writing of the Disaster, we turn to the work of Maurice Blanchot to develop our ongoing exploration of writing as impossibility and madness, and extend it to a consideration of the image. Beginning with a workshop on passages from Writing the Disaster, and Blanchot’s texts ‘Reading’ and ‘The Narrative Voice’, we will explore ideas of a radical passivity, reading situated before comprehension, the neutral, and the image as cadaver.”

For more information, or to book a place, visit the Event page on the Goldsmiths, University of London website.

An abridgement of Simon Critchley’s landmark essay on the 1999 film
Wittgenstein asks a question, which sounds like the first line of a joke: ‘How does one philosopher address another?’ To which the unfunny and perplexing riposte is: ‘Take your time’. Terrence Malick is evidently someone who takes his time. Since his first movie, Badlands, was premiered at the New York Film Festival in 1973, he has directed just two more: Days of Heaven, in 1979, and then nearly a 20 year gap until the long-awaited 1998 movie, The Thin Red Line, which is the topic of this essay.

(more…)