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Hannah Arendt

Directed by Margarethe von Trotta

Germany, 2012

Cornerhouse, 29 September 2013

Hannah Arendt

This film focuses on Arendt’s life in the early 1960s, looking in particular at the period when she attended Eichmann’s trial in Jerusalem and wrote about it in a series of articles for The New Yorker and a later book.

Barbara Sukowa delivers a fine central performance, portraying Arendt as a woman of intelligence, passion and integrity, someone who couldn’t help but give voice to (as she saw it) an uncomfortable truth.  She questioned the role of the Jewish Councils in cooperating with the Nazi regime quite as much as they did, and this bought her a shedload of criticism.  Her views made her many enemies and lost not a few friends.

Eichmann in Jerusalem is a book that requires to be read with attention, and it may even be ‘the twentieth century’s most important philosophical contribution to the problem of evil’, as Susan Neiman claims.  In it, Arendt makes mention of Anton Schmidt, an Austrian conscript and a kind of anti-Eichmann figure: an ‘ordinary’ person with a conscience.  Learn about his life and weep.

Hannah Arendt is a fine film.