A teacher lives a lonely life, all the while struggling over his son's custody. His life slowly gets better as he finds love and receives good news from his son, but his new luck is about to be brutally shattered by an innocent little lie.
Thomas Bo Larsen,
An aspiring author during the civil rights movement of the 1960s decides to write a book detailing the African-American maids' point of view on the white families for which they work, and the hardships they go through on a daily basis.
Hannah Arendt (2012) is a movie co-written and directed by the outstanding German director Margarethe von Trotta.
The film stars Barbara Sukowa as Arendt, who was one of he leading intellectual thinkers of the 20th Century. Arendt's history reads more like fiction than non-fiction. As discussed in the movie, she studied in Germany under the great philosopher Heidegger, was imprisoned in a Nazi internment camp in France, from which she escaped, came to the U.S., and taught at some of the finest universities in our country.
The movie concentrates on the furor that arose after Arendt wrote about the Eichmann trial for The New Yorker. (These articles were later published as a book.) Arendt brought forth her theory of the banality of evil in these articles. Her point was that an evil person like Eichmann was not a monster, but rather a person who has renounced his ability to think, and therefore has renounced his status as a human being.
Arendt believed that Jews who accepted a modicum of authority from the Germans contributed to the Holocaust, because without the Jewish leaders to maintain order, there would have been more chaos and less killing of Jews.
This latter belief made people furious, because it suggested that the Jews were partially responsible for their own fate. This is hard enough to hear now. You can imagine how it was received in 1961, less than 20 years after the Holocaust.
One weakness of the film is that the script suggests that "everyone" was talking about Arendt's writing. Then, as now, the intellectuals of the Upper West Side of Manhattan did not represent a true sample of the U.S. population. Many people were aware of the Eichmann trial, but Arendt's writings passed unnoticed by most people.
Another weakness is that characters in Arendt's life are introduced once, and then never again. If you miss the names the first time, you'll just have to live without knowing who was whom. That's not so bad, because you can accept Barbara Sukowa as Arendt. Everyone else in the film revolves around her.
If you're interested in the Holocaust and in 20th Century philosophy, the film is a must. Even if those topics aren't important to you, the movie is compelling as a study in human behavior and human interactions. We saw the film at the Rochester Jewish Community Center as part of terrific Rochester Jewish Film Festival. If it's available on DVD or at another festival, I recommend that you see it.
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