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.
At a Montréal public grade school, an Algerian immigrant is hired to replace a popular teacher who committed suicide in her classroom. While helping his students deal with their grief, his own recent loss is revealed.
The film "Hannah Arendt" depicts an intriguing and contradictory intellectual but avoids examining the political core of the famous controversy it recounts. Arendt stirred a furor with her 1963 writings on the Israeli government's trial in Jerusalem of the Nazi Adolf Eichmann. She characterized Eichmann, who had organized the transport of European Jews to the death camps, as a banal bureaucrat rather than a singular monster. She wrote that European Jewish leaders, too, were responsible, by administering submission to the Nazis when even futile resistance and chaos might have allowed more Jews to survive. The public attacks on Arendt are shown. She was pilloried, particularly by Jewish intellectuals, as an unfeeling Nazi sympathizer and self-hating Jew. The New School's move to fire her is also enacted.
But the film, which shows Arendt as shocked to learn that she has hurt the feelings of many Jews, including long-time friends, does not reveal that she had broken with the Zionist leaders in 1942 when they called for a Jewish state rather than the bi-national Palestine she supported. The Zionists opposed measures to rescue Jews from the Nazis other than those that herded them to Palestine. They claimed, however, that their takeover of Palestine was all about saving Jews from a unique evil -- a claim unchallenged by most liberals as well as the Stalinist left. Arendt's analysis hit the Zionists' guilty conscience and undermined the rationale for their nationalist project. The film ignores these crucial political elements, and presents Arendt's strong defender and friend only as novelist "Mary" without disclosing that Mary McCarthy was an anti-Stalinist and anti-Zionist who called Zionism the "Jewish final solution."
Director Margarethe von Trotta's failure to explore this relevant history leaves her film interesting but superficial when it could have been brave and timely. Arendt's famous topic, thoughtless compliance with evildoers in power, needs our attention today more than ever. Fifty years after the "Banality of Evil" controversy, U.S. liberals and progressives are blindly uncritical of a leader who spies on millions and remotely executes foreigners and citizens in the name of national security. A militarily mighty Zionist state is still free to massacre innocents, shielded by this unquestioned U.S. power and the old sacred cow that Israel is the only safe haven for Jews. Arendt might have had some juicy comments about the "banality of filmmaking."
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