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Plot: A look at the life of philosopher and political theorist Hannah Arendt, who reported for The New Yorker on the war crimes trial of the Nazi Adolf Eichmann. Runtime: 113 mins Release Date: 10 Jan 2013
brave film with intellectual challenges (by maurice_yacowar)
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>
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.
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 <more>
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.
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 <more>
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!
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 <more>
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.
Philosophy With A Hammer................. (by cvairag)
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 <more>
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.
How do you think about the unthinkable (by Red-125)
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 <more>
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.
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 <more>
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 <more>
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.
Another Sukowa triumph, but von Trotta has some learning to do (by jm10701)
Like Vision the previous movie by Margarethe von Trotta starring Barbara Sukowa this is a fantastic movie with a serious flaw. But in both cases, the flaws have nothing to do with Sukowa, whom I had never heard of before Vision but who I now see is one of the world's greatest actors. She is perfect in both roles, in both movies. Since she dominates both movies, she is so good that she earns the movies eight stars from me despite the serious flaws.The flaw in this movie is that many of the supporting roles are filled by terrible actors, and they're so bad that they can't be <more>
ignored - when they're on screen they completely derail the movie, and it doesn't recover until Sukowa returns and they leave. The very worst of those incompetent performances are by actors Megan Gay, Harvey Friedman and Janet McTeer who have been thoroughly competent in other movies, so the problem must be with von Trotta's direction of them.The fact that all three characters are Americans only one of the actors - Friedman - is probably isn't a coincidence. Von Trotta evidently doesn't have much sense of how Americans tick, or even talk, so she doesn't quite know how to create credible American characters in a movie. Germans - of any era - she does great; Americans: no.A secondary but related flaw is that she should have hired an American production designer. I understand why she filmed all the New York interior scenes which means practically the whole movie in Germany, but, unfortunately, they all LOOK like German interiors, not at all like real New York interiors, even in the early 1960s.Although I'm very glad she made this movie, if she plans to continue filming American stories she really needs to get help from people who know how to create a believable America and believable Americans on film. She's a great director, but she needs help if she intends to keep making movies about America.