German director Margarethe von Trotta has long been fascinated by history’s great women, from twelfth-century Christian mystic Hildegard von Bingen to Marxist firebrand Rosa Luxemburg. With her newest film, she tackles a crucial episode in the life of another great twentieth-century icon: the German-Jewish philosopher and political theorist Hannah Arendt, as magnificently incarnated by von Trotta’s frequent collaborator, the great Barbara Sukowa (Vision, Rosa Luxemburg).
A former prize pupil (and lover) of philosopher Martin Heidegger, Arendt was already famous in academic circles for her books The Origins of Totalitarianism and The Human Condition when she was assigned by The New Yorker in 1961 to travel to Jerusalem and cover the trial of Adolph Eichmann, one of the architects of the Nazis’genocidal “Final Solution” during World War II. Following the testimony from concentration camp survivors and the pathetic self-exonerations of Eichmann, von Trotta brilliantly dramatizes the process by which Arendt began to formulate what would be her most lasting, and controversial, contribution to contemporary political thought: the “banality of evil”—evil not as diabolical intent but as unthinking, almost offhanded ignorance of the consequences of one’s actions.
Featuring a towering performance by Sukowa, and Janet McTeer (The Woman in Black, Albert Nobbs) in a superb supporting role as her staunchest ally Mary McCarthy, Hannah Arendt is a stunning historical and human drama. Using footage from the actual Eichmann trial and weaving together an involving narrative that spans three countries, von Trotta turns the often invisible passion of thought into immersive, dramatic cinema.
"[Barbara Sukowa] invests Arendt with a steely fury, but the
film, set during and after the 1961 trial of ex--Nazi official Adolf
Eichmann, has an entertaining cocktail-banter superficiality." - Owen Gleiberman,
Director: Margarethe von Trotta
Cast: Barbara Sukowa, Janet McTeer, Axel Milberg, Klaus Pohl
Runtime: 113 minutes
Language: German with English subtitles
ON NR /
BC NR /
AB NR /
SK NR /
MB NR /
QC NR /