Fox Searchlight’s , Terrence Malick’s film that tells the true story of conscientious objector Franz Jägerstätter, who refused to fight for the Nazis in World War II, was screened at the Vatican on Wednesday.
Fox Searchlight chairmen Nancy Utley and Stephen Gilula confirmed the private screening for dignitaries in the Vatican Film Library event space. It was introduced by Paolo Ruffini, Prefect of the Dicastery of Communications, and Malick was in attendance.
“We thank Terrence Malick for being here and sharing this moment with us,” he said. “The narrative of the film is at the same time beautiful and terrible, and it is a challenge because we are brought to face our souls, our consciences, our fears, our forgetfulness and our avoidance of responsibilities. This narrative overturns the rhetoric of heroism, because it tells of a hidden hero, in a film which speaks of love, of consistency, of death and resurrection. It tells of how important it is to keep our memories and tell them with such beauty.”
August Diehl stars as Jägerstätter and Valerie Pachner plays his wife Fani. When the Austrian farmer is faced with the threat of execution for treason, it is his unwavering faith and his love for her and their children that keeps his spirit alive.
Jägerstätter was Beatified in 2007 by Pope Benedict.
Very few films have been accepted to screen at the Vatican prior to their release. The pic, which bowed earlier this year at Cannes, hits U.S. screens on December 13.