Sunday, February 08, 2015

Margarethe von Trotta: 'Hannah Arendt' (2012)

Margarethe von Trotta's Hannah Arendt (2012) focuses on the deep 20th century thinker (pronounced more like "Errant" or "Aren't" than "Ah-Rent") around the time (early 1960s) of Adolf Eichman's trial -- and execution -- in Israel. 

With her articles on the Eichmann trial and the resulting book, Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil (1963), Arendt's ideas at the time aroused heated controversy because of their multilayered complexity. Specifically at one point, she argues that some Jews were complicit in facilitating the evils of the Holocaust through their cooperation with Nazis. The movie covers all of this ground very well, including the hatred from others which she had to contend with.   

Many people nowadays know at least some of Hannah Arendt's ideas, with or without her name attached to them, such as "the banality of evil:" evil acts made easy by a widespread, bureaucratic, impersonal evasion of responsibility. Pass the buck. It's not my department. I didn't know. I was just following orders, rules, protocol. Sorry, I cannot recall . . .   
It took me about twenty minutes to get into sync with Hannah Arendt's pacing and field of characters; once in, I was all in. 

The meticulous 1960s details of a working intellectual and her circle of friends, assistants and critics -- plus her living and working spaces -- are all excellent, as are the actors: especially Barbara Sukowa as Hannah Arendt and Axel Milberg as Heinrich Blücher, Hannah's anti-Stalinist communist philosopher-poet professor husband. 

Among several other important characters, keep an eye out for Martin Heidegger, the philosopher -- an early paramour and, for at least a time, Nazi sympathizer -- and American writer-friend Mary McCarthy. 

Today's Rune: Partnership.   


Charles Gramlich said...

Not too many people seem to comprehend the complexity of such events. And even fewer have the guts to talk about them

Vesper said...

The woman who saw banality in evil... How very interesting. I'll have to find out more about her.

the walking man said...

If orders are given by way of social necessity then all of us are captured in the banality of evil.