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Hannah Arendt (2012)

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A look at the life of philosopher and political theorist Hannah Arendt, who reported for The New Yorker on the war crimes trial of the Nazi Adolf Eichmann.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Lotte Köhler
Axel Milberg ...
Heinrich Blücher
Timothy Lone ...
News Speaker
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Francis Wells
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Jonathan Schell
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Student Enrico
Leila Schaus ...
Student Laureen
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Thomas Miller
Victoria Trauttmansdorff ...
Charlotte Beradt
Sascha Ley ...
Lore Jonas
Friederike Becht ...
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Storyline

In 1961, the noted German-American philosopher, Hanna Arendt, gets to report on the trial of the notorious Nazi war-criminal, Adolf Eichmann. While observing the legal proceedings, the Holocaust survivor concludes that Eichmann was not a simple monster, but an ordinary man who thoughtlessly buried his conscience through his obedience to the Nazi Regime and its ideology. Arendt's expansion of this idea through her resulting New Yorker articles would create the concept of the "Banality of Evil" that she thought even sucked in some Jewish leaders of the era into unwittingly participating in the Holocaust. The result is a bitter public controversy in which Arendt is accused of blaming the Holocaust's victims. Now, that strong willed intellectual is forced to defend her daringly innovative ideas about moral complexity in a struggle that will exact a heavy personal cost. Written by Kenneth Chisholm (kchishol@rogers.com)

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Genres:

Biography | Drama

Certificate:

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Details

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Release Date:

10 January 2013 (Germany)  »

Also Known As:

Hana Arent  »

Filming Locations:

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Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$31,270 (USA) (31 May 2013)

Gross:

$714,442 (USA) (1 November 2013)
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Did You Know?

Quotes

Mary McCarthy: [interrupting a German discussion] Whatever you are saying, I agree with all of you.
Hannah Arendt: Everybody, English now, please.
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Connections

Featured in Democracy Now!: Episode dated 26 November 2013 (2013) See more »

Soundtracks

Cafe Ivory
Composed and Produced by Frank Stumvoll
Courtesy of Freshart Musicproductions
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User Reviews

 
Interesting history lesson
6 May 2013 | by (Ghent, Belgium) – See all my reviews

I didn't know an awful lot about philosopher Hannah Arendt before I saw this movie. Now I know a lot more about her, and about the way she thinks. After seeing the film, I have even read some articles about her work.

If that's what director Margarethe von Trotta had in mind when making this film, she succeeded. Her film documents an important chapter in the story of Arendt's life: her articles about the Eichmann trial in Jerusalem, and the ensuing tsunami of negative reactions. The reason for those negative reactions was the way Arendt regarded Eichmann: not as a monster, but as a man 'incapable of thinking', a dimwit who just followed orders. This fitted her theory of 'the banality of evil': the worst kinds of evil are often the result of not thinking for oneself.

Veteran actress Barbara Sukowa portrays Arendt as a difficult and complex woman, who is a brilliant philosopher but also stubborn, arrogant and single-minded. In one scene, we see her lying on a couch, when the phone rings. On the other end of the line is her editor, who faces a deadline and asks if she is making progress with the articles. 'Of course I'm working hard, and it would be nice if I could continue working instead of chatting on the phone', she answers. After that, she returns to the couch, lies down and continues smoking her cigarette.

Sometimes it seems that Arendt is incapable of feeling, just as Eichmann is incapable of thinking. Even when her best friends turn away from her, she continues insulting them by telling them 'she doesn't love the Jewish people'. She means it in a philosophical way - you can't love a people the way you love individuals. But nevertheless, it comes across as cold-hearted and insensitive.

Arendt is clearly an interesting person. But that doesn't make 'Hannah Arendt' an interesting film. From a cinematographic point of view, the movie doesn't have much to offer. It's a rather straightforward account of this episode in Arendt's life. The only thing that adds a little depth to the film are the flashbacks of the romantic affair she had with her teacher, the famous philosopher Martin Heidegger, who sympathized with the Nazis. The film suggests that this affair influenced the way she regarded Nazis such as Eichmann, but doesn't make this explicit. In my view, the film is interesting as a history lesson about this remarkable woman, but not as a great cinematographic experience.


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