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Film Festival Review: Hannah Arendt

Film Festival Review: Hannah Arendt

Jul 22, 2013 Film & TV

Hannah Arendt

Directed by Margarethe von Trotta


If you’ve ever wondered how six million Jews went so passively to the gas chambers in Nazi Germany, you’re not alone. The New Yorker sent philosopher Hannah Arendt to cover the Adolf Eichmann trial in Israel in 1961, and she wrote an explosive analysis that included accusing Jewish leaders of failing to help their people. Its publication caused huge rifts among her friends and readers (and, of course, predictable hostility from the Israel lobby).

Veteran director Margarethe von Trotta gives Arendt a cartoonish German accent and much of the film is taken up with dialogue, but her portrait of the tough, independent and intellectually gifted political theorist is fascinating — spiced by original footage from the show trial of the mediocre but genocidal bureaucrat spirited from Buenos Aires to Jerusalem who tried to hide behind the classic Nazi defence: “I was only following orders.”