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A real gem!
Ray Lahey18 September 2012
Hannah Arendt (2012)

Few movies based on historical figures manage to combine a good sense of character with a first-rate story. Hannah Arendt is an exception. It is directed by Margarethe von Trotta, who had focused on such diverse (and strong) women of history as the nun and mystic Hildegard von Bingen and the leftist revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg. Her latest film is the story of one key episode in the life of Hannah Arendt, the German-American philosopher and political theorist. But Hannah Arendt transcends the bounds of "feminist" filmmaking. It is a work that puts before the viewer key questions about the nature of evil, about acceptance of authority, and about personal responsibility. At the same time it is a fine piece of storytelling.

Arendt was a German Jew who had studied under the noted philosopher Martin Heidegger, and who had a romantic relationship with him that soured when the Nazis came to power and Heidegger publicly supported them. She soon left Germany for France but in 1940 was imprisoned by the Vichy regime in the detention camp in Gurs. Escaping after a few weeks imprisonment, she fled with her husband to the U.S. Throughout and after the war she was active in Jewish causes, including the Zionist movement. In the 1950s she began a career of writing and teaching, which included appointments at such universities as Princeton, Yale and the University of Chicago. She became noted for two popular books, The Origins of Totalitarianism and The Human Condition.

The film deals with one short period in her life, Arendt's reporting on the 1961 Adolf Eichmann trial in Jerusalem for the New Yorker magazine, coverage she later turned into a book. In here account she spoke of "the banality of evil," evil done without thinking, because people were "following orders." Arendt's suggestion was that Eichmann was evil not so much because he was a monster, but because he was a mindless bureaucrat. Although she did not disagree with the guilty verdict or Eichmann's hanging, she was critical of the conduct of the trial. Even more controversial was her submission that some Jewish leaders contributed to the magnitude of the Holocaust by their complicity with the authorities. While she recognized the futility of open rebellion, she suggested that less cooperation would at least have saved more lives. Such suggestions, especially coming from a prominent Jew, provoked a firestorm of criticism, and threatened both Arendt's career and lifelong friendships. The movie becomes not just about a single life, but about freedom of expression - the sometimes harsh clash between ideas and fixed opinions - and the great personal costs this can involve.

Still, a movie that focuses so much on one individual requires a superb piece of acting. Director von Trotta gets this from Barbara Sukowa, who played both Hildegard and Rosa Luxemburg in her earlier films. Sukowa brings to the screen not only a supremely intelligent woman, but a very principled and determined one. At the same time she portrays a woman who can be tender and compassionate, and understanding even of her detractors. To blend such widely divergent qualities is no easy task, but Sukowa succeeds in anchoring them securely in the character she plays. Axel Milberg as Heinrich Blücher, Arendt's husband, more reserved, but supportive and protective, is equally credible. Another solid performance comes from Janet McTeer as the political activist, author, and Hannah's steadfast friend, Mary McCarthy. Included also among her inner circle was her secretary, Lotte, played very sympathetically and competently by Julia Jentsch. Two longtime Jewish friends, one in New York, Hans Jonas, and another in Jerusalem (also her former teacher), Kurt Blumenfeld, are very well represented by Ulrich Noethen and Michael Degen. And a very unrepentant and unapologetic Martin Heidegger is played by Klaus Pohl.

In addition to good acting a film that deals with the realm of ideas also requires a finely tuned screenplay and talented direction so that it does not just show pictures of "talking heads." Director von Trotta cooperated with Pam Katz on the script, and what they produced is obviously a labor of love. The situation of ideas against the background of such horrific concrete acts as genocide, and in particular against the showpiece trial of Eichmann, brings them into contact with the very real world. That reality is heightened by the decision not to dramatize Eichmann himself, but to show the genuine article as he appears in the TV footage of the trial. There is such genuine horror there, and yet such obvious banality, as to give Arendt's musings real weight.

In the end the film obliges the viewer to confront the questions Arendt is trying to raise. Are the roots of evil obvious or can they be far more subtle? Where does responsibility begin, and who in a society must take responsibility for the acts of the whole body? The film does not preach, but it certainly raises vital questions. A real gem! Hannah Arendt premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 11, 2012. The movie will go into general release on January 17, 2013.
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brave film with intellectual challenges
maurice yacowar23 January 2013
Margarethe von Trotta's Hannah Arendt is a film about thinking. Moreover, it's in favour of it. It so values thinking that it offers some elegant speeches and debate, sans computer generated spectaculars.

Barbara Sukowa portrays the German Jewish philosopher during the period she covered the Adolf Eichmann trial in Israel for The New Yorker. The film confronts the controversy Arendt raised when (i) she redefined Eichmann not as a monster but as an ordinary nobody, exemplifying "the banality of evil," (ii) she reported that some Jews collaborated with the Nazis, resulting in more deaths than chaos would have caused, and (iii) she said she loves her friends but not any "people," in this case, the Jews. On all three counts she was condemned for abandoning her people. Today, at a remove from the heat of that moment, she was clearly correct on all counts. For more see www.yacowar.blogspot.com.

Not loving the Jews was not being anti-Semitic but refusing to emotionalize her consideration of the issues. Arendt was opposed to the blanket love of any group of people, not based on personal engagement, because such nationalist or other group identification precluded the thoughtful consideration of any issues around them. She most valued a rational, thoughtful approach that was not prejudged or proscribed by any -ism or convention. As for some Jews' collaboration, she simply reported facts that arose at the trial. (Indeed, Rudolf van den Berg's new film Suskind details precisely that collaboration.) Nor was that observation anti-Semitic, for the possibly well-intentioned collaboration in the face of horrid danger is a plausible response among any people. Arendt was pilloried for facing the facts and for rejecting myths. That's what historians are required to do and apparently what philosophers periodically have to remind them to do.
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Missing history from "Hannah Arendt"
freeds16 July 2013
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."

Rita Freed
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Philosophy With A Hammer.................
cvairag1 June 2013
Folks, this is what Philosophy is all about: taking a stand which is not always popular and being able to justify it for the ages. Hannah Arendt is only in this century beginning to receive her due as the most perspicuous political philosopher of the 20th century. After all, it was Ms Arendt who first observed that post-Hiroshima, a conventional war could never again be fought and won. But rather, all pre-emptive invasions who devolve into occupations - that rather than full-scale war or revolutions - the world would sink increasingly into a mire of entropic violence. Her controversial thesis in Eichmann In Jerusalem - yet another masterpiece of at least five in her canon, is that mass atrocities are not committed by idiosyncratic madmen who erect vast engines of evil in which the followers (citizens of the state) serve as the 'cogs' – but rather the architectonic of evil consists in the actions of rather ordinary people who for various reasons and rationalizations refuse to think about the ramifications of what they're doing. I mention this point because I've studied Ms Arendt's work for over three decades, lived in Greenwich Village when she was teaching at the New School, and when I saw the film premiere at the Santa Barbara Film Festival this past January – I felt that most of the scant audience did not get the point any more than her contemporaries. The film-making is excellent. To dramatize philosophic ideas is challenge in itself. Von Trotta, in the old European style, makes her films with a regular group of actors, and, while the performances were effective throughout, in real life, Hannah Arendt was not nearly so physically engaging and Mary McCarthy quite a bit more – which, I believe had something to do with the development their respective moral characters. All in all, a great, not merely a good, film – and one of the few worth seeing thus far this year – unless, of course, the attributes of fast and furious 6 or iron man 3 overwhelm.
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Interesting movie based on facts about her turbulent life and focusing especially Eichmann trial
ma-cortes9 July 2013
An intense look at the trouble life of philosopher and political theorist Hannah Arendt , who reported for The New Yorker on the war crimes trial of the Nazi Adolf Eichmann . It deals with her American personal experiences , as in 1950 , Hanna (Barbara Sukowa) became a naturalized citizen of the United States along with her husband Heinrich Blucher (Axel Milberg) . Arendt served as a visiting scholar at the University of California, Berkeley, Princeton University, and Northwestern University. In the spring of 1959, she became the first woman lecturer at Princeton ; Arendt also taught at the University of Chicago , The New School in Manhattan and Yale University . Furthermore , in the movie appears some flashbacks about her relationship with Martin Heidegger (Klaus Pohl) . Hanna was was a German-American political theorist as well as a prestigious philosopher . Arendt's work deals with the nature of power, and the subjects of politics, direct democracy, authority, and totalitarianism.

This is a brooding and thought-provoking biographic drama about the notorious philosopher focusing mainly the Eichman trial . Stands out the wonderful acting by Barbara Sukowa who is terrific in the title role . Support cast is frankly excellent such as Axel Milberg as her husband Heinrich Blucher , Janet McTeer as the writer Mary McCarthy and Julia Jentsch as her helper , the latter also starred another good film about Nazism titled ¨Sophie Scholl¨ . The motion picture was well directed by Margarethe Von Trotta and it belongs a trilogy dealing with Nazism , formed by ¨Roxa Luxemburg¨ also starred by Barbara Sukowa and ¨Rosenstrasse¨or Street of roses .

The picture is based on real events about Hanna Arendt life ; Arendt's first major book was entitled, The Origins of Totalitarianism (1951), which traced the roots of Stalinist Communism and Nazism in both anti-Semitism and imperialism . In her reporting of the Eichmann trial for The New Yorker, which evolved into Eichmann in Jerusalem : A Report on the Banality of Evil (1963), she coined the phrase "the banality of evil" to describe Eichmann. She raised the question of whether evil is radical or simply a function of thoughtlessness, a tendency of ordinary people to obey orders and conform to mass opinion without a critical evaluation of the consequences of their actions and inaction.Arendt was sharply critical of the way the trial was conducted in Israel. She also was critical of the way that some Jewish leaders, notably M. C. Rumkowski, acted during the Holocaust. This caused a considerable controversy and even animosity toward Arendt in the Jewish community. Her friend Gershom Scholem, a major scholar of Jewish mysticism, broke off relations with her. Arendt was criticized by many Jewish public figures, who charged her with coldness and lack of sympathy for the victims of the Shoah/Holocaust. Due to this lingering criticism, her book has only recently been translated into Hebrew.
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A character study of philosopher Hannah Arendt
steven-leibson14 July 2013
Although I was not familiar with the name "Hannah Arendt," I was certainly familiar with the phrase "banality of evil" that Arendt coined. However, "banality of evil" is not the phrase she used. The full phrase is "the fearsome, word-and-thought-denying banality of evil." Because, unlike the claims of many accusers who didn't fully understand her, Arendt didn't see a simple bureaucrat in Eichmann during his 1960 trial in Israel. She saw a truly evil man who "spoke like a bureaucrat." Her point being that Eichmann did not speak or seem to think like a genocidal maniac yet he acted like one nevertheless. That is evil cloaked in the banal. This movie revolves around the years of Arendt's life, 1960 to 1963, when she was formulating these ideas and in that, I think the movie probably has it right.

All that said, and these are certainly ideas worth mulling over, this is a film for ideas and for philosophy buffs, not for film buffs. Why do I say this? Because this movie is slow, at least for American audiences. The beginning is confusing. We see a woman in New York but we don't know the date. She speaks German. We see a man get off of a bus heading to "Victoria" in the middle of nowhere. He is promptly kidnapped. We don't know when or where. Eventually, we learn the kidnapped man is Adolph Eichmann who is nabbed by the Mossad in Argentina in 1960. Much of the movie unfolds slowly. This is a film about thinking. It is not about doing much or feeling much. It is an intellectual film.

There's one semi-action scene in the film where a 1950s vehicle corners Arendt on the road where she is walking. Israeli secret agents pour out of the car and threaten Arendt, trying to prevent her from publishing her book about Eichmann. Based on someone knowledgeable, Professor Roger Berkowitz, academic director of the Hannah Arendt Center for Politics and the Humanities at Bard College in New York, it appears this scene was invented out of whole cloth to try to give the film at least some suspense. But that's not what this film is about.

It's about thinking and it's about the fearsome, word-and-thought-denying banality of evil and how Hannah Arendt was the first to identify this 20th-century pathology of the human psyche.

Thanks to the Camera Cinema Club in San Jose for showing this film.
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Intelligent movie and great performance
levelllll52 May 2013
Warning: Spoilers
The movie starts like a thriller. A man, walking alone in the night, is suddenly kidnapped by some men in a van. The man screams. The image is dark, except for the lights of the van which hurries toward us. We understand later on that the kidnappers were Mossad agents and that the man was Adolf Eichmann. This is 1960. Hanna Arendt (Barbara Sukowa) has been living in exile in New York with her husband (Axel Milberg) for twenty years. She is a well-known professor, she and her husband are a happy couple, she is surrounded by friends. After hearing the news of Eichmann's arrest, she convinces the New Yorker to send her to Jerusalem to cover the trial. The article that she ends up writing and that the New Yorker decides to publish is of course more than a mere journalist account, but a philosophical reflection on the origins of evil. Arendt's now famous theory is that Eichmann was not a monster nor an anti-Semite, but just a cog in the Nazis' infernal machine, unable to think and to feel empathy. This idea is what she called the banality of evil. In her essay, Arendt also denounces the collaboration of some Jews with the Nazis. Of course those ideas create a scandal among the American intelligentsia and the Jewish community around the world. People attack her without trying to understand her, and of course, as it is often the case, without even reading her. How can a Jew who experienced the concentration camps put herself in a nazi's shoes to try to explain his crimes? How can a Jew dare criticize other Jews? Many of her friends break off their relations with her. One of them, on his deathbed, asks her "don't you love your people?" and she answers that she can't love a people, she only loves her friends. Two visions conflict with each other, communitarianism against freedom of thought. The film is interesting in the way it shows this free thinking at work. Hanna Arendt, wonderfully played by Barbara Sukowa, is shown smoking in her apartment, sitting at her desk or in a sofa, lying on a couch, standing at the window. She is shown writing and thinking, and it's never boring. You can criticize the film for many things, but not for its dullness. You can criticize Margarethe von Trotta's academic filmmaking, especially when she uses flashbacks to evoke Arendt's relationship with Heidegger. You can criticize her partial perspective. She never questions her character, she makes Arendt a heroin, a sort of Robin Hood fighting for truth. Arendt's character is far from bland, but she has no contradictions, no gray areas. Except for the final speech to her students, Arendt's work is not really tackled, but this is not a film about a philosophical work, it is a mainstream film about a woman that von Trotta wants us to like. And we do. The film is a tribute. Von Trotta intelligently treats the historical dimension by inserting archive images of the trial. You see Eichmann in his glass cage, answering the judges' questions. You also see survivors testifying, and some Jews trying to justify themselves. Thus, except for one superfluous scene, the trial is not re-enacted, and this is for the best, because fiction cannot replace already existing images. You can criticize the film for its didactism, or praise it for its informative qualities. You can't criticize the film for its lack of accuracy, because it is a portrait, and, like every biography, it is biased. Here, the biography is almost a hagiography, but a hagiography that is open and clear in its intentions.
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How do you think about the unthinkable
Red-1251 August 2013
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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A great episode of history told on an average movie
albertopsg23 August 2013
Hanna Arendt is a biopic of the homonymous German philosopher focusing on her coverage of the Eichmann trial in Jerusalem and the outrage that her articles on it ensued.

As a historical document, the movie is gripping and mostly clear (though some lines of the discussions of her with her friends are a bit unclear) to laymen. I, for one, had never heard of Arendt and the 'banality of evil' before, but I believe that now I'd be able to talk about her thoughts with making a fool out of myself. For that, I thank the film.

Though, on a movie-making viewpoint, it is a letdown. The flow of the film is pretty odd, with leaps in time and space (eg. suddenly she is in Israel), and the efforts to use transition scenes are pretty untimely. The dialogs aren't the best either, with strange remarks here and there, and philosophic remarks not everyone could grasp.

Hannah Arendt is much more of a history and philosophy class, than a great movie. Though, it deserves a bit of appreciation for successfully exposing a great woman's thoughts to a new generation.
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Interesting history lesson
Ruben Mooijman6 May 2013
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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integrityandvalues30 August 2013
This film helped me to forget that it was a film. Subtle, intelligent but mostly telling a story imperative to the 21st century. By making links throughout Arendt's personal life and development as not only one of 20th century's most brilliant thinkers and philosophers but a sentient passionate and moral woman, juxtaposed with her work—and the aftermath of—her New Yorker articles on the war crimes trial of Adolf Eichmann, Arendt, without making such a projection, articulates what this current era of humanity suffers from most: "The banality of evil". The film brings this point into sharp focus without as much saying this is what we need, but the timeliness of it is most certainly intentional.

This film also beautifully, and again subtly, captures the state-of-mind of an era: One of calcified righteousness among others who cherished clarity of mind, goodness and intelligence, and a style of humor and affection from which those things flowed freely.

See the film to understand exactly what all this means and why Arendt's topic of the "banality of evil" is so important for today's crises facing humanity.
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evil and allegiance
dromasca12 February 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Hannah Arendt ignited controversies during her life, and many of these controversies continued after her death. Margarethe von Trotta's filmed biography catches some of them (like the fascination that turned into a love story between the bright Jewish student and the much elder philosopher Heidegger, a Nazi sympathizer) and focuses on one specifically - Arendt's coverage of the Eichmann trial and her relationship with fellow Jews, the Jewish state and eventually to her own Jewishness. A precipice separated Hanna Arendt's views from the one of the Jewish Israelis. Where the survivors in Israel were seeing a process of justice in the name of the millions murdered with no justice of mercy, the American refugee was seeing a public revenge that was not judging the deeds of Eichmann but the wrongs of the system to which he belonged. Let me say that as an Israeli I have little sympathy for her lack of sympathy towards Israel, yet I believe that on the ideas plan Hannah Arendt (the film) makes a convincing case for the humanistic views of Hannah Arendt the philosopher. Unfortunately this does not turn into a good movie.

The story in the film starts with the kidnapping of Eichmann in Argentina by the agents of Mossad. The next scene introduces the American philosopher of Jewish origin and German culture learning the news and commenting them with her husband in their apartment with a view in New York. She had written a book (maybe even the ultimate book) about the roots of evil, so she must travel to Israel and watch the trial of Eichmann in order to understand and see the instantiation of evil with her own eyes. Arrived in Israel she comes to the realization that the source of the crimes of Eichmann is not in ideology and not in some malady, but in the blind allegiance to rules, and in the refusal to measure the orders he received and his own deeds on a human or moral scale. This brings her in conflict with the greatest majority of her Jewish and Israeli friends, as the gap between the perceptions is immediately obvious. Despite having lived through similar ordeals, her conclusions are different and among all she misses the tribal instinct that brings together people of the same ethnic origin. She loves people and friends, not nations and countries, not even her own.

The problem with Hannah Arendt (the film) is that it is plainly and completely uninteresting film-making. It seldom exceeds the borders of respectful but boring biographical movies. There is only one memorable scene in the film, the one where the philosopher talks to her students and the staff of the university - Barbara Sukowa is passionate and convincing, succeeding to bring on her side not only the audience in the film, but also the viewers in the cinema hall. The rest is full with banal and rhetoric verbiage, a lot of stereotypes, and non-significant domestic intrigue. I wonder if Hannah Arendt, the rebellious philosopher and nonconformist character would have liked this film. I doubt it.
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Time to talk
stensson4 March 2013
Hannah Arendt, Jewish-German philosopher and veteran from a Nazi camp she escaped from. She lives in New York when the Eichmann trial in Jerusalem is on and she decides to go there, to report for New Yorker.

She gets confirmation in her theory of banality in evil, when she sees Eichmann and writes about it. What's worse is that she also blames Jewish leaders. They have guilt too, since they let themselves be forced into the Holocaust organization.

Of course there's outrage, but in a couple of scenes you find splendid defense for free speech and free thought. A film with a female philosopher as hero, just talking, is rare.
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A Story with Relevance Today
dbrown179328 July 2013
Chances are only the high-brow crowd will see "Hannah Arendt" in their regional art theater, not at the multiplex where films without car chases, explosions and sexy babes rarely are screened. The fury of intellectuals is hardly the stuff of popular drama.

But the recent firestorm over the Rolling Stone magazine cover of Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev mimics the issue Arendt brought up, namely the odd diametric quality of appearance and evil. People were outraged that Tsarnaev resembled a nice young man, someone you would love your daughter to date. Had he appeared with a turban, demonic eyes and fangs dripping blood, would that have satiated the public's taste for bad guys looking like bad guys, not rock musicians?

Arendt did a similar thing covering the Eichmann trial in 1961 for the New Yorker. She subsequently wrote "Eichmann in Jerusalem", the Banality of Evil", positing that the monster was in fact, a man and a bland mediocrity at best. This, too, outraged those who wanted Eichmann to be portrayed as the devil incarnate.

Recent history has proved that atrocities, whether the holocaust in Rwanda, the Newtown Massacre or other acts of horror, are committed by people we wouldn't look twice at if we met them on the street. That maybe everyone has a Heart of Darkness that can be accessed under the perfect storm of conditions. It's all a matter of choice.
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Powerful and brilliant!
Tommy Beau4 October 2013
This is a marvelous movie! Really made me consider the brilliant original thinking of this woman, and I was surprised by the hysterical opposition to what she in her own honesty reported.

Very well acted and directed, a tension ran through the entire movie, making one feel that one was on the edges of an important discovery about the fundamental nature of humanity. And the movie did not disappoint.

One week after seeing the film, the thought lingers: We live in a world of lies and deception, because by and large we are afraid of the truth. The unexamined life may not be worth living, but most of us prefer to live our lives in the dark shadows of our ideologies rather than step into the searing light: that good and evil resides in each of us, and that each of us is capable of the most unspeakable evils under the right conditions. All it takes is for us to stop thinking and just blindly "do our duty" and follow orders, as Adolph Eichmann did.

Brilliant movie!
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The Shining, Deceptively Beautiful Banality of Evil
peter henderson12 April 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Adolf Eichmann was the Nazi bureaucrat who organised the transport of Jews to concentration camps during Hitler's reign in Germany.

If the anti-semites who peddle all that Holocaust denial nonsense had enough intellectual curiosity to read Hannah Arendt's book about his 1960-2 trial in Israel, they would discover a far more potent means of spreading their racial hatred.

Arendt describes the way in which Eichmann, a mediocrity rather than a monster, used his negotiating skills to convince the Jewish organisations that they could "save" a certain number of Jews by assisting in the "deportation" of others

I watched the unfolding of Margarethe von Trotta's film with something akin to disbelief. I went away and read the book version of Arendt's series of articles for the New Yorker magazine on the trial of Eichmann in Israel in 1960-62.

…(Penguin Edition 2005) page 58 The Councils of Jewish Elders were informed by Eichmann… of how many Jews were needed to fill each train and they made out the list of deportees… The few who tried to hide or to escape were rounded up by a special Jewish police force

page 60 Without Jewish help in administrative and police work…there would have been either complete chaos or an impossibly severe drain on German manpower

page 61 to a Jew this role of the Jewish leaders in destruction of their own people is undoubtedly the darkest chapter of the whole story

page 62 … we can still sense how they enjoyed their new power – the Central Jewish Council has been granted the right of absolute disposal over all Jewish spiritual and material wealth and over all Jewish manpower … Jewish officials felt like Captains "whose ships were about to sink and who succeeded in bringing them safe to port by casting overboard a great part of the precious cargo" … In order not to leave the selection to blind fate, truly holy principles were needed as the guiding force of the weak human hand which puts down on paper the name of the unknown person and with this decides his life or death. And who did these holy principles single out for salvation? Those who have worked all their lives for the community i.e. The functionaries and the most prominent Jews (through page 65, 70-71 and 80-83)…

The film then depicts the way in which the Jews with whom Arendt had associated in America before writing those articles virtually excommunicated her.

Nothing new about that. Read chapters 20 and 29 of the Jewish prophet Jeremiah (628-587 B.C.E.), who faced 'criticism' for daring to tell his countrymen they were to be exiled in Babylon for seventy years. In fact it was Jeremiah who came up with the notion of 'assimilation'. That's in chapter 29 of his prophecies too…

Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease.  Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.

The whole assimilationist trend has been attributed to the eighteenth century philosopher and wandering Jew, Moses Mendelssohn by, among others, Simon Schama in his 2013 BBC television series "The Story of the Jews". As that series pointed out, Theodor Herzl contested the assimilationist idea in his 1895 book, "Der Judenstaat" ("The Jewish State") which launched the Zionist movement, whose activities culminated in the creation of the state of Israel in 1948.

Arendt makes the astounding disclosure that it was one of the few books Eichmann ever read. He not only read it. It became the foundation of his 'idealistic' view that Jewish feet should stand on Jewish, not German, soil. Everything that he accomplished was directed toward that purpose.

But maybe there is an even more shocking idea inherent in the film's narrative than that.

I had heard the striking phrase, 'the banality of evil' before I had heard of Arendt. She uses it in her paragraph describing the hanging death of Eichmann at the hands of Israeli officials. But like the serpent in the Garden of Eden, evil has a way of disguising its banality.

If we can define Nazism as evil, was it something in the Nazi tendencies of her teacher and lover, Martine Heidegger, that attracted her to him? (If the depiction of Heidegger in the film by Klaus Pohl is accurate, it was certainly not his looks). There is the scene in which she and her female confidante, Mary McCarthy, talk about 'the love of her life" over a game of billiards. She denies it was Martin Heidegger

But then I was surprised when I heard the critics raving about the performance of Barbara Sukowa in the lead role. To me, watching the film, I found her performance in her scenes of domestic interaction with her husband rather forced. It brought to mind those rather overstated intimations of affection of people who seem to be trying to convince themselves that feel more strongly for their partner than their hearts' tell them that they do. Her performance seemed to be 'artificial'.

Maybe Mary McCarthy was right. Maybe it all gets back to that idea of Chris Hedges, quoted as a preface to Kathryn Bigelow's 2008 film, "The Hurt Locker" to the effect that "War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning". Maybe the serpent, the Shining One, in the Garden of Eden had an attractiveness that transcended mere banality. Maybe it was something about the evil in Heidegger that made him the love of Arendt's life
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"Acutely cinematographic, densely biographical and empathetic..."
Sindre Kaspersen16 December 2013
German screenwriter, film professor, producer and director Margarethe Von Trotta's thirteenth feature film which she co-wrote with American screenwriter Pamela Katz, is inspired by a biography from 1982 by American author and psychotherapist Elisabeth Young-Bruehl (1946-2011) and real events in the life of a 20th century German-Jewish political theorist. It premiered in the Special Presentations section at the 37th Toronto International Film Festival in 2012, was screened in the German Cinema section at the 63rd Berlin International Film Festival in 2013, was shot on location in America, Israel and Luxembourg and is a Germany-Luxembourg-France co-production which was produced by producers Johannes Rexin and Bettina Brokemper. It tells the story about a 54-year-old emigrant and thinker named Hannah Arendt who lives in an apartment in New York City, USA with her husband and professor in philosophy named Heinrich Blücher. In 1960, SS lieutenant colonel Adolf Eichmann who had been helped by the Roman Catholic Church to escape from Austria to Argentina is captured and kidnapped in Buenos Aires, Argentina by Mossad agents and taken to Jerusalem, Israel where he is to be convicted for crimes against humanity. In the summer of June in 1961 whilst the world is awaiting the upcoming trial which is to be broadcasted on Israeli television, Hannah is given the demanding assignment of covering the event by American journalist William Shawn at The New Yorker.

Distinctly and precisely directed by German filmmaker Margarethe Von Trotta, this finely paced and somewhat fictional, though probably as truthful as possible, tale which is narrated from multiple viewpoints though mostly from the main character's point of view, draws a conscientious and revering portrayal of the adversity a University teacher and former Zionist is faced with after writing a ten-page essay about a war criminal called Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil" which becomes very controversial, and how her interpretation of this widely discussed historical event and its subject matters affected her friendship with a German-Jewish philosopher named Hans Jonas whom she studied with at the University of Marburg, Germany in the 1920s and a German-Jewish Zionist leader named Kurt Blumenfeld whom she worked with in Germany in the early 1930s. While notable for its distinct and atmospheric milieu depictions, reverent and distinguishable cinematography by French cinematographer and director Caroline Champetier, production design by production designer Volker Schaefer, costume design by costume designer Frauke Firl, make-up by make-up artist Astrid Weber and use of colors and light, this character-driven and dialog-driven story about the importance of independent thinking, the historical consequences of totalitarianism and the origins of evil where the narrative is driven by the protagonist's consistent contemplation and an incisively intellectual and profoundly humane woman from Hanover, Germany is wrongfully accused of having defended one of the "many" participants of the extermination of Jews whom she regarded as a mediocre nobody and bureaucrat who was incapable of thinking due to his unconditional obedience to his leader and of blaming the Jewish people for what they were subjected to by the Nazis during the Second World War, depicts a refined and eloquent study of character and contains a timely score by composer André Mergenthaler.

This revising, informative, quietly romantic, at times humorous and ingeniously and virtuously anti-totalitarian character piece which is set in Germany, Israel and America in the 1920s, 1950s and early 1960s, which reconstructs poignant events in Hanna Arendt's life and where a prominent author who had a romance with one of her most significant teachers in philosophy named Martin Heidegger, who after being arrested by the Gestapo in the 1930s for her Zionist activities fled from her homeland to Paris, France where she began rescuing young European Jews, who managed to escape from an internment camp in Gurs, France in the early 1940s and who had friendships with a German expatriate named Lotte Köhler and an American writer named Mary McCarthy, confronts a 55-year-old father, husband and SS-Oberststürmbannführer and writes a thesis which addressed critical questions and both challenged and changed peoples' perceptions of the Holocaust, is impelled and reinforced by its cogent narrative structure, subtle character development, rhythmic continuity, efficient use of archival footage, concentrated and commanding style of filmmaking, atmospheric flashback scenes, the masterfully understated acting performance by German actress Barbara Sukowa and the engaging acting performances by English actress Janet McTeer and German actors Axel Milberg and Ulrich Noethen. An acutely cinematographic, densely biographical and empathetic homage which gained, among other awards, the award for Best Actress Barbara Sukowa at the 34th Bavarian Film Awards in 2013.
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Chilling Vision of the Way Evil Can Pervade a Society
l_rawjalaurence11 September 2014
Other reviewers have questioned the historical accuracy of Margarethe von Trotta's portrayal of Hannah Arendt (Barbara Sukowa) and her opinion of the Jewish leaders as expressed in her NEW YORKER articles on the trial of Adolf Eichmann in 1961.

As a piece of film-making, however, HANNAH ARENDT grabs the attention and does not let go throughout its 113-minute running- time. As portrayed by Sukowa, Arendt comes across as a forthright person, not frightened of expressing her opinions and responding to any intellectual challenges from close friends such as Kurt Blumenfeld (Michael Degen). Yet beneath that tough surface lurks a profoundly disillusioned person, as she discovers to her cost that her great teacher and mentor Martin Heidegger (Klaus Pohl) does not practice what he preaches. Although insistent on reinforcing the distinction between "reason" and "passion," Heidegger takes the "passionate" decision to associate himself with the Nazi party, and thereby embraces their totalitarian values. Like Eichmnann himself, he chooses not to "think" but to commit himself to an ideology that actively discourages individual thought.

The sense of shock and disillusion Arendt experiences inevitably colors her view of the Eichmann trial. Director von Trotta includes several close-ups of her sitting in the press-room listening to the testimony of Eichmann, his accusers and the witnesses, a quizzical expression on her face, as if she cannot quite make sense of what she hears. She cannot condemn Eichmann, because he has simply followed Heidegger's course of action.

Once the articles have been published, Arendt experiences an almost unprecedented campaign of vilification. Although she is given a climactic scene where she defends herself in front of her students (and her accusers within the university faculty), we get the sense that she is only doing so on the basis of abstractions; her personal feelings are somehow disengaged. She is far more affected when her one-time close friend Hans Jonas (Ulrich Noethen) vows never to talk to her again on account of her views. Philosophers might be able to make sense of the world, but they often neglect human relations.

Consequently our view of Arendt, as portrayed in this film, is profoundly ambivalent. While empathizing with her views about the banality of evil, which reduces people to automata as they claim they were only carrying out orders, even while being involved in atrocities, Arendt herself comes across as rather myopic, so preoccupied with her ideas that she has little or no clue about how they might affect those closest to her. It's a wonder, therefore, that Mary McCarthy (Janet McTeer) chooses to stick with her through the worst of circumstances.

Ingeniously combining archive footage of the Eichmann trial with color re-enactments of what happened during that period, HANNAH ARENDT is a thought-provoking piece, even if we find it difficult to identify with the central character.
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The Dangers of Free Thinking
evanston_dad13 January 2014
Every once in a while you'll see a really good performance that's prevented from being great by the film around it. That's the case with Barbara Sukowa as the title character in "Hannah Arendt," a dramatization of a controversial episode in the writer and philosopher's life when she was ostracized for writing a piece in "The New Yorker" about the trials of Eichmann that Jews felt sympathized too much with the Nazi cause.

The tone of the film is overly righteous and leaves its audience no room to come to a conclusion on its own. In the world of the film, Hannah is a hero of free speech and free thinking, while those who are offended by her are portrayed as narrow-minded, rat-faced villains. The entire film has a feeling of artifice that it can't overcome -- the actors move around the set like actors in a play, reciting obviously scripted lines in strange, haughty tones, their noses literally in the air. Even Janet McTeer, an actress who I love, seems ill at ease with the material she's given.

Only the performance of Sukowa makes this film worth watching, even if the primary feeling watching her is how much better her performance could have been if the movie itself was better. One moment and one moment only, a rousing monologue she delivers during the film's finale, in which she defends her point of view to a room full of students and faculty members, provides a glimpse of the powerful movie "Hannah Arendt" could have been.

Grade: B-
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Eichman is an uncredited supporting actor in this thought provoking biopic
alexdeleonfilm12 May 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Hanna Arendt, Directed by Margarethe von Trotta. 2012.

Starring Barbara Sukova and Adolph Eichmann. Viewed at the Miskolc Film festival, Hungary, Oct. 13, 2013.

Hanna Arendt, German Jewish philosopher and American academic, coined the phrase "the banality of evil" when she wrote her book on Eichmann in the early sixties. I was never sure what exactly she meant by this until yesterday when von Trotta's film finally cleared that issue up for me -- fifty one years later! The one indisputably positive thing I can say about the movie "Hannah Arendt" -- is that it makes the meaning of the famous historical catchphrase "The Banality of Evil" patently clear -- once and for all -- in a dramatic framework. Whether you buy German actress Barbara Sukowa's sexually attractive Arendt and the acting of the other actors around her who come on more like symbols than flesh and blood characters -- is so secondary it's almost beside the point. The point of this picture is to remind a whole new generation of the mind-blowing fact that genocide and other forms of mass murder are perpetrated by common ordinary average people, not by exceptional monsters!

The film focuses on Arendt's assignment in 1961 to cover the Eichman trial in Jerusalem for the New Yorker. This she does, but so objectively that it offends many Jewish sensibilities, to the point where some declare her to be anti-Semitic. in Arendt's view Eichman was not personally involved -- he wasn't even necessarily an Anti-Semite -- he was just a very good bureaucrat and was literally doing nothing but carrying out his Orders -- unquestioningly -- because in that system being a Good German meant Following orders -- However, considering what he was being required to do it also required him to relinquish any personal feelings he might have had! His crime was acceding to total depersonalization ~ dehumanization! In Arendt's view he was merely a neutral cog in an evil machine, not personally responsible for what the machine does -- and therefore in a philosophical sense, was not himself evil -- or responsible for the countless deaths involved. Part of the evilness of the murder machine is that it gobbles up and neutralizes personal feelings. So, in Arendt's view, Eichman was an ordinary man absolutely dedicated to doing his job, and doing it well! And this is what the "banality" of evil is all about -- that there is nothing special about it! You don't have to be a sadist or a psychopath to become part of a mass murder machine. You just need to have a strong desire to conform -- to be accepted by your peers -- and don't we all have that!

The special thing about the Nazi Evil was the massive scale on which it was carried out. Almost any ordinary person can fall into this trap -- of suspended personal feelings -- and become a cog in a gigantic death machine. That is the point strongly emphasized by this motion picture. Whether it is really a "good movie" in the sense of being a convincing drama -- (in my critical opinion it is not) -- is not the point. The purpose of the movie is to instruct -- not to entertain. It is a cogent movie Lesson -- in the philosophy of history --- but a dramatically convincing movie it is not. Sukowa is too entertaining and the rest of the cast are too much like a collection of speaking stick figures making didactic points at every turn. The movie Telegraphs all its punches -- to the point where the viewer starts getting punchy watching it. For it to have been a good movie into the bargain it would have needed Meryl Streep as Hannah -- or maybe a resurrected Bette Davis! Incidentally, Eichmann himself, shown in numerous clips from the trial defending his " just following orders" position and claiming innocence, becomes an almost sympathetic figure and, by rights, should gave received a supporting actor credit
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The banality of evil
Alonso Gil Salinas5 February 2016
Warning: Spoilers
It is a really good film. Though I would highly recommend reading the book in which it is based ("Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil") to fully appreciate the dialogue, the film conveys what Hannah Arendt really wanted to communicate: that an external situation highly influences (not to the point of determining, because there are always exceptions) the behavior of "normal" people. In this case, totalitarianism and evil behavior. I would only add that some commentary should have been included in the final credits about what happened regarding the polemic she caused with the passage of time. I think a paragraph I read in an Internet essay by Dr. Daniel Maier-Katkin (http://www.hannaharendt.net/index.php/han/article/view/64/84) is very clear about it: "The tide of history since then has been mostly with her. In politics this is due to the widespread opposition especially among students and intellectuals to the Viet Nam war in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The conduct of American leaders – Lyndon Johnson and Robert McNamara, and then Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger – brought home the idea of "banal" evil. In social science, landmark studies of obedience to authority by Stanley Milgram at Yale and of prisoners and guards by Philip Zimbardo at Stanford gave shocking evidence of the extent to which ordinary people could be induced to harm others. Among historians, with the notable exception of Daniel Goldhagen's book Ordinary Germans: Hitler's Willing Executioners (which attributes the Holocaust to a tradition of exterminationist anti-Semitism in German culture) recent scholarship on the Third Reich – Ian Kershaw on Hitler, Robert Gellately on the S.S., Christopher Browning on the Einsatzgruppen – tends to confirm Arendt's thesis that ordinary people were complicitous with the Nazi regime for reasons best characterized as banal. In international affairs, the collapse of Soviet totalitarianism and recent genocidal catastrophes in Bosnia, Rwanda and Darfur have reinforced the idea that great evil may arise from the false beliefs and banal motives of ordinary people". The above mentioned Dr. Zimbardo published in 2007 a book titled "The Lucifer Effect" in which he explains how good people turn evil. Years before, he had testified for the defense of a guard at Abu Ghraib prison rejecting the idea that the events did not reflect the particular military situation in which they happened. Of course, this is difficult to accept, because it implies much more culpability on the higher authorities which allowed such a "situation" to emerge in the first place. I guess the argument suggests that it is far more difficult to accept that there is a high probability that "normal people" like ourselves can fall into evil behavior due to a horrendous and shocking situation in which, for whatever reason (and without fully realizing it) we might fall; than conceiving an evil nature (an awful exception) in he who behaves in such a way. Anyway, do not misunderstand the idea. The fact that the situation can have a predominant role does not exculpate the perpetrator. (spoiler alert) As Hannah Arendt's last phrase of her book (talking to Eichmann's about his overall behavior) states: "This is the reason, and the only reason, you must hang".
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Evil has an ordinary face
blanche-27 October 2015
This is a fascinating look at Hanna Arendt, a German-American philosopher who in 1961 reported on the trial of Adolf Eichmann for the New Yorker. A huge controversy erupted.

Arendt left Germany in 1933 for France, but when Germany invaded France, she found herself in a detention camp. When the film begins, she is a happily married woman with friends such as the writer Mary McCarthy, and she is a professor at, among other places, the New School in New York City.

Hanna is very excited about covering the trial, but her husband, Heinrich, is afraid it will take her back to those dark days.

While observing Eichmann, Arendt is struck by the fact that he was an ordinary man with nothing special about him. This causes her to think about the nature of evil itself. She decides that he's not a monster but a person who suppressed his conscience in order to be obedient to the Nazis. She thus created the concept of the "banality of evil."

She believed also that some Jewish leaders at the time had fallen into this trap and unwittingly participated in the Holocaust. Her critics failed to understand her meaning.

In some camps, her New Yorker articles were not well received, as she was seen as a heartless turncoat who blamed the victims. Hanna has to defend her ideas, and the price she pays for them is high.

Barbara Sukowa does a magnificent job as Arendt, showing the woman's brilliance, courage, affection for friends and family, and hurt when some people she loved turned against her.

It's surprising that she was met with as much disdain as she was -- but Arendt did not believe in blind adoration of any group. She took people on an individual basis.

As far as the banality of evil, evil has always had the ordinary face of people sitting back and doing what they're told. Or, as Martin Luther King said, doing nothing. I'm sure many of us have experienced this in the workplace -- I know I did. It's then that you realize the true nature of most people. Everyone can say they have ethics - but do they have ethnics when they stand to lose something?

Beautifully directed by Margarethe von Trotta, who also co-wrote the screenplay. A difficult subject made clear, a complicated woman understandable -- no small feat. A thought-provoking film.
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"The banality of evil is with us always"
susanjhirad9 August 2015
This is a powerful movie that raises important moral issues, not just about the Holocaust, but about how many people "go along" with atrocities without thinking, thereby giving up their humanity. Strangely, just after we watched it on Netflix streaming, I turned to CNN's "The 70's" which was showing Sergeant Calley and his platoon mindlessly killing a whole Vietnamese village, including innocent men, women and children. He too claimed he was just "following orders." In the same episode on the Vietnam War, Henry Kissinger is shown after he has ordered the massive bombing of civilians in Vietnam. He comments casually, "It's sad, but we had to do it." An excellent movie that shows how hard it is to speak out when it offends the popular sensibilities, in this case when Arendt sees Eichmann, not as "the devil" (which is far too easy for the rest of us)but as part of machine that had given up its right to humanity by not thinking about the consequences of his actions.
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Evil Dissected
Al Rodbell25 June 2015
There are momentous events that shape our world, with individuals, Hitler, Napoleon, Marx -- who take the stuff of their birth world and shape it into something different. Those who capture forces and marshal them for revolutions, are both hated and loved, saviors and monsters -- and the winners write the history.

True Philosophers transcend this. They remove themselves from those who hate and admire such transforming figures, and by doing so risk becoming alienated from their own group. Thus is the case of Hannah Arendt in the period of this film. As a student she had a love affair with Heidegger, one of the great philosophers of the early 20th century - who as a human being joined the Nazis.

Arendt, being a Jew, in a covering the trial of Adolf Eichman, became the thinker, the philosopher, while those survivors of the Holocaust were in pain over their loss, and in no mood to intellectualize the perpetrators.

Although I lived only miles from Arendt at the time of this film, I was far removed from the academic culture described, and now more than a half century later, look back with a top of nostalgia and remorse. I knew some who survived the death camps, and certainly could identify with those who reviled Arendt for not loathing Eichman.

Yet these are the challenges of today. We have child terrorists such as one who just killed nine people in a black church our of the same inculcated hatred as the Nazis towards Jews. Arendt's thinking is valuable, and needed since the disease of hatred of outsiders does not seem to be fading, but rather is a constant recurrence of humanity.
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Brilliant film-making
sergepesic29 March 2015
What is the role of an intellectual in an increasingly anti-intellectual world? In a world of uncontrolled and under-analyzed displays of emotion, room for an intellectual, even more so for a political philosopher, is getting smaller and smaller. Hannah Arendt's thesis about banality of evil stirred the world. Perhaps because it is more terrifying to see the potential for evil in benign looking individuals than in larger than life monsters. It seems almost that we are more comfortable with childhood ogres that are hiding under our beds. If evil could be anywhere or present in anybody, can we ever be safe? Brilliant film-making, a taught provoking masterpiece in unthinkable times.
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