Finding Hope In The Dolomites
I had been waiting for quite some time for the movie "A Hidden Life" to show up in the theaters. I had seen a trailer at some point last year and I instantly recognized every scene in the montage as it appeared. Epic scenes of some of my favorite spots in South Tyrol rolled across the huge screen along with an obligatory shot of those falls in Lauterbrunnen. I couldn't wait for this film to come out!
Apparently, the film was released in January, but I never saw it advertised and it didn't seem to be showing the theaters around me. Instead, I was surprised to find it on HBO last week and have since watched it three times in a row. The premise of the movie is that one life, even if it is "hidden" can make an incredible difference. In this particular instance, a simple, unknown Austrian farmer refused to take an oath to Hitler in the face of overwhelming opposition from his neighbors, from the government, and even from his own church. He had to choose between taking the oath and joining the German army or to be sent to prison and killed, leaving behind his wife, their three young daughters and their farm in the alps. Their refrain throughout the film is "No one will know you did this. Your sacrifice is worthless." This "nobody" searched his heart and had the courage to stand by his convictions.
While looking through my Autumn shots from last year, this one suddenly jumped out at me. This valley appears only for a brief moment in the film, but I recognized it as they valley where I had spent most of a soggy afternoon waiting for something to happen. I remembered a lady walking by as I was shooting on a very wet and dreary day and she smiled sadly and spoke in German as she passed by. I couldn't quite catch all of what she said with my zwei jahren of high school German, but she seemed to say something along the lines of "Such a shame that the sun isn't out today." It was definitely a gloomy, miserable day of non-stop fog, drizzle and rain.
And then it happened. A moment of light. A moment of clarity. A moment of hope. In that instant, the entire dark landscape was transformed into something truly beautiful.
Franz Jägerstätter's neighbors may have told him that no one would remember him, but that's not quite how it turned out. In 1964, his biography was published and in 2019 his story was premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. Millions have now seen this film across the globe.
Interesting how when everything grows dark, the light seems that much brighter.
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