44 of 47 people found the following review helpful
Arendt vs. "the banality of evil",
This review is from: Hannah Arendt (DVD)
"Hannah Arendt" (2012 release from Germany; 109 min.) is NOT a biopic of the German "political theorist" Hannah Arendt. Instead, it brings us the story surrounding Hannah Arendt (played by Barbara Sukowa) in 1961 when she is hired by the New Yorker Magazine to cover the trial in Jerusalem of ex-Nazi Adolf Eichmann, who was famously abducted by the Israeli secret police in Buenos Aires to stand trial for his crimes/atrocities against the Jews. Arendt soon creates a controversy within her circle of friends, and later, when her articles are published, within the Jewish community at large, with her controversial, yet misunderstood, views on the trial. It was in those articles that Arendt coined the now famous term "the banality of evil".
Several comments: this is another historical drama, say along the lines of the recent "Emperor" movie. But there are differences. First, there is the amazing performance of Barbara Sukowa in the title role. She is simply outstanding. Second, this is directed by the legendary German director Margarethe von Trotta, now in her 70s if you can believe is. (Sukowa and von Trotta have teamed up before.) Third, the movie makes ample use of historical footage of the actual trial of Eichmann, and it is fascinating stuff to watch. Fourth, while there are a number of flashbacks to Arendt's earlier days as a philosophy student and her involvement with professor/philosopher Martin Heidegger (who eventually joined the Nazi party), there remain much more to be said/shown about Arendt (which of course is not the scope of this movie). Fifth, this being set in 1961, people are smoking cigarettes non-stop in virtually every scene of the movie, it is just beyond belief. Lastly, a weakness in the movie is that there is no enough real drama to be felt, even with all the controversies going on, reason that I rate this "only" 4 stars, as I still enjoyed the movie quite a bit.
I saw "Hannah Arendt" a few weekends ago at my local art-house theatre here in Cincinnati, and the matinee screening I saw this at was surprisingly well attended, tilting heavily towards seniors. Alas, the movie didn't play very long on the big screen (it's already gone). That said, if you are in the mood for a quality foreign movie, or simply interested in the historical context of this topic, I would readily recommend you seek this out, be it in the theatre or on DVD.