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Vita Activa: The Spirit of Hannah Arendt (2015)

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A documentary about the life and work of hannah arendt, the prolific and unclassifiable thinker,political theorist, moral philosopher and polemicist, and with her encounter with the trial of Eichmann a high ranking nazi.


Ada Ushpiz


Ada Ushpiz
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Credited cast:
Hannah Arendt ... Herself (archive footage)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Leon Botstein Leon Botstein ... Himself - President of Bard College
Judith Butler Judith Butler ... Herself
Alison Darcy Alison Darcy ... Hannah Arendt (voice)
Adolf Eichmann Adolf Eichmann ... Himself (archive footage)
Martin Heidegger ... Himself (archive footage)
Hans Jonas Hans Jonas ... Himself


A documentary about the life and work of hannah arendt, the prolific and unclassifiable thinker,political theorist, moral philosopher and polemicist, and with her encounter with the trial of Eichmann a high ranking nazi.

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Israel | Canada


English | German | Hebrew | French

Release Date:

2015 (Israel) See more »

Also Known As:

Hannah Arendt - Die Pflicht zum Ungehorsam See more »

Filming Locations:

Israel See more »

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Sound Mix:



Color | Black and White (archive footage)

Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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User Reviews

A great piece on Arendt's life and especially work.
23 January 2017 | by signornoirSee all my reviews

Great watch. I am not so sure about the fiction movie about Arendt but I have ordered it and will have a chance to make up my mind. At the light of today's world, Arendt's work has something of prophetical, and even if not reassuring it hits bull's eye in so many assertions.

In this brilliant documentary you can learn more about the central pieces of Arendt's work and the reception of the coining of phrases such as the banality of evil. It's also your chance, as our philology master Nietzsche would advise us, to get close and personal with the source and the context where these words were written and voiced out into collective intelligence. It will help you to gain the strength to really understand that Arendt's evil category is everything but banal and that it's banality is solely rooted upon the unawareness of other's pain. An involuntary, silent and unnoticed sadism lost in the webs of political corruption, totalitarianism and bureaucracy.

Besides a beautiful elipse work between footage from the past which adds true drama to the story, edited together with bits and pieces of Arendt's famous radio and TV interviews (where are these prime time intellectual TV shows now?); the documentary excels at a synthetic but emotional sum up of the Arendt's life more important episodes and people (Heidegger, Jaspers).

The main character, thought, is Arendt's contributions and philosophical activity. Her legacy is immense and contemporary. Her view of the human condition and events, even seen at the light of our reality today, are spot on and for many she overcame her masters, making way to a new way of reflection, unworn by time and progress.

For sure it sheds a great light often to her work here, namely the categories of evil, the infamous banality of evil; thinking as a dangerous act/non-thinking as the most dangerous, inhuman act; the refugees status and their loss of human rights supported only while under the guarantee of a nation which refugees just lost; plurality; a handful of deep, actual and serious matter of study.

In the meanwhile if you know her work, you must watch this film. If you don't, that necessity is even more pressing considering you are into contemporary Philosophy. Our dear Hannah Arendt is one of the most, if not the most brilliant voices of the twentieth century.

A word for Ada Ushpiz (director/writer, Israel) and her crew for the good taste, deep approach and beautiful mounted film with great interviews with both the supporters and the detractors of Arendt's body of work.

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