A documentary about the life and work of hannah arendt, the prolific and unclassifiable thinker,political theorist, moral philosopher and polemicist, and with her encounter with the trial of Eichmann a high ranking nazi.
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Margarethe von Trotta
In November 1939, Georg Elser's attempt to assassinate Adolf Hitler fails, and he is arrested. During his confinement, he recalls the events leading up to his plot and his reasons for deciding to take such drastic action.
In 1961, the noted German-American philosopher, Hannah Arendt, gets to report on the trial of the notorious Nazi war criminal, Adolf Eichmann. While observing the legal proceedings, the Holocaust survivor concludes that Eichmann was not a simple monster, but an ordinary man who had thoughtlessly buried his conscience through his obedience to the Nazi regime and its ideology. Arendt's expansion of this idea, presented in the articles for "New Yorker", would create the concept of "the banality of evil" that she thought even sucked in some Jewish leaders of the era into unwittingly participating in the Holocaust. The result is a bitter public controversy in which Arendt is accused of blaming the Holocaust's victims. Now that strong willed intellectual is forced to defend her daringly innovative ideas about moral complexity in a struggle that will exact a heavy personal cost.Written by
Kenneth Chisholm (email@example.com)
For a deeper understanding of this story, one might care to watch Operation Finale, which depicts the undercover mission to find and extract Adolph Eichman from Argentina and bring him to trial in Israel. Showing the backgroung of an operation sanctioned by PM Ben Gurion, the film gives us a glimpse of the complexity of Eichman's character, his futile attemps to justify his actions and tell his side of the story. See more »
When Arendt stands on the terrace of her hotel in Jerusalem at looks across the Valley of Hinnom at the Old City, there are Israel flags flying from the Tower of David complex. However, the Old City of Jerusalem was still under Jordanian control in 1961. See more »
But Hannah, how can you defend him?
But I'm not defending him. You can hardly forget that your husband is only my friend because of you. And I don't throw away my friends so quickly.
See more »
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 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.
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