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Hannah Arendt2012

  • 4.3
  • passes the bechdel test
In the award-winning HANNAH ARENDT, the sublime Barbara Sukowa reteams with director Margarethe von Trotta for a brilliant new biopic of the influential German-Jewish philosopher and political theorist. Arendt's reporting on the 1961 trial of ex-Nazi Adolf Eichmann in The New Yorker (controversial both for her portrayal of Eichmannand the Jewish councils) introduced her now-famous concept of the "Banality of Evil." Using footage from the actual Eichmann trial and weaving a narrative that spans three countries, von Trotta beautifully turns the often invisible passion for thought into immersive, dramatic cinema. An Official Selection at the Toronto International and New York Jewish Film Festivals, Hannah Arendt also co-stars Klaus Pohl as philosopher Martin Heidegger, Nicolas Woodeson as New Yorker editor William Shawn and two-time Academy Award® -nominee Janet McTeer as novelist Mary McCarthy.

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6 members like this review

This movie, somewhat deceptively titled "Hannah Arendt" is not a biopic, but rather focuses on the one aspect of Arendt's life in 1962 when she left the ivory tower world of academia to report on the Eichmann trial for The New Yorker magazine. I was introduced to Hannah Arendt in my junior year of college when my class was assigned "The Human Condition" which was difficult (e.g. Arendt often uses Greek words in her quest for precision), but made me think harder than I ever have, probably, about how someone acquires the power to take action in the public sphere.

I have only read a few sections of "Eichmann in Jerusalem," particularly the ones wherein Arendt defines what she termed the "banality of evil" with respect to Eichmann's moral breakdown in his zeal to follow orders. The Stanley Milgram experiments done at around the same time buttressed Arendt's views, which showed that people who don't think about their actions as ordered by an authority figure will usually commit immoral or even sadistic acts. This was Arendt's main thesis, that Eichmann was more like a robot than a human being because he didn't think, and so didn't have the capability of making moral decisions.

Nowadays, we see this tendency inculcated purposefully into military and police on a routine basis. Perhaps this was what Arendt was warning us about with her incisive portrait of Eichmann.

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Member Reviews (3)

210916.small
top reviewer

This movie, somewhat deceptively titled "Hannah Arendt" is not a biopic, but rather focuses on the one aspect of Arendt's life in 1962 when she left the ivory tower world of academia to report on the Eichmann trial for The New Yorker magazine. I was introduced to Hannah Arendt in my junior year of college when my class was assigned "The Human Condition" which was difficult (e.g. Arendt often uses Greek words in her quest for precision), but made me think harder than I ever have, probably, about how someone acquires the power to take action in the public sphere.

I have only read a few sections of "Eichmann in Jerusalem," particularly the ones wherein Arendt defines what she termed the "banality of evil" with respect to Eichmann's moral breakdown in his zeal to follow orders. The Stanley Milgram experiments done at around the same time buttressed Arendt's views, which showed that people who don't think about their actions as ordered by an authority figure will usually commit immoral or even sadistic acts. This was Arendt's main thesis, that Eichmann was more like a robot than a human being because he didn't think, and so didn't have the capability of making moral decisions.

Nowadays, we see this tendency inculcated purposefully into military and police on a routine basis. Perhaps this was what Arendt was warning us about with her incisive portrait of Eichmann.

6 members like this review
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This is a great movie, The acting is exquisite, the story is very well told, and an incredibly important moment in history. Barbara Sukowa totally inhabits the Arendt persona. So much so, in fact, that I really didn't like her at all. It takes courage to play someone unpleasant and keep them unpleasant.

For those who don't know, this story line--Hannah Arndt's take on the Eichmann trial remains one of the single most controversial and most debated moments in the Holocaust discussion. I am one who thinks Arndt was wrong in her conclusion about Eichmann, but probably right in her condemnation of the Jewish Councils as being partially responsible for the shear number of Jews killed in the death camps. Tough stuff done well. Highest recommendation

Vision & Hannah Ahrendt: two exquisite films by Director Margareta von Trotta. In both films,

her leading lady Barbara Sukowas is passionate, intensely focused and well-directed. The historical details are well researched and courageously brought forward to the public. It behooves the viewer to come prepared with some historical knowledge about both of these women. While Hannah Ahrendt demands astute, intellectual focus, Vision (The story of Hildegard von Bingen) was like a deep meditation for me. In both films, Bthe subtitles are very well done.