GERMANY – 2012 – 110 MIN – COLOUR - FEATURE - IN GERMAN & ENGLISH
A FILM BY MARGARETHE VON TROTTA
The film portrays Hannah Arendt (Barbara Sukowa) during the four years, (1960-64), that she observes, writes, and endures the furious reception for her work about the trial of the Nazi war criminal, Adolf Eichmann. Watching Arendt as she attends the trial, staying by her side as she is both barraged by her critics and supported by a tight band of loyal friends, we experience the intensity of this powerful Jewish woman who fled Nazi Germany in 1933. The fierce, chain-smoking Arendt is an exile who is happy and flourishing in America, but whose penetrating vision makes her an outsider wherever she goes.
When Arendt hears that the Israeli Secret Service has kidnapped Adolf Eichmann in Buenos Aires, and brought him to Jerusalem, she is determined to report on the trial. “I never saw these people in the flesh...” she writes the New Yorker magazine, and “To attend this trial is an obligation I owe to my past.” William Shawn (Nicholas Woodeson), the editor of the magazine The New Yorker, is thrilled to have such an esteemed intellectual cover the historic process, but Arendt’s husband, Heinrich Blücher (Axel Milberg), is not so sure. He worries that this encounter will put his beloved Hannah back into what they both call the “dark times.”
Arendt enters the tense Jerusalem courtroom expecting to see a monster and instead she finds a nobody. The shallow character of the man cannot be easily reconciled with the profound evil of his actions, but Arendt quickly realizes that this contrast is the puzzle that must be solved. She shares her observations in intense discussions with her close friend and father-figure, Kurt Blumenfeld (Michael Degen). And although they often disagree, there is much love and respect between them.
Arendt returns to New York and as she begins to discuss her groundbreaking interpretation of Eichmann, fear ripples through her best friend, Hans Jonas (Ulrich Noethen). Jonas insists that Arendt is taking a far too philosophical approach to this incendiary subject. She’ll only cause confusion, he warns. Arendt stands her ground and Heinrich supports her all the way. After two years of intense thought, additional reading, and further debate with her best American friend, Mary McCarthy (Janet McTeer) her German researcher and friend, Lotte Köhler (Julia Jentsch) and of course, constant consultation with Heinrich, she finally delivers her manuscript. The publication of the article in The New Yorker provokes an immediate scandal in the U.S., Israel, and soon in the rest of the world.
Von Trotta was born in 1942 in Berlin and studied German and Romance languages and literature in Munich and Paris. Margarethe von Trotta ranks among the world’s most renowned writer-directors. Over the years she has created an extensive oeuvre of dedicated and impressive filmmaking that never fails to confirm her pronounced talent for fusing the personal experience with the political theme, developing a distinctive form that is emotionally rich and enjoys wide public appeal. Von Trotta's protagonists often stem from a historical reality that she counters with the feminine solidarity and strength of women who transform their lives and break out of conditions defined as normal.
"Feminist political thinker Hannah Arendt honoured in Von Trotta film"
- FOREVER YOUNG NEWS
"HANNAH ARENDT succeeds at articulating the complex ideas that defined the subject's life, which makes the movie a lingering intellectual exercise as well as an eye-opening examination of 20th century thought."
"The long process of bringing thinker Hannah Arendt to life on the screen" (Interview with Margarethe Von Trotta)
- THE GLOBE AND MAIL
"Intelligent work exceedingly relevant and inspiring"
"Intellectual history film anything but banal"
- TORONTO SUN
"The fearless life of Hannah Arendt: scholar, outcast at every turn"
- THE NATIONAL POST
NNNN! "Credit Sukowa with a superb performance as a woman who lost friends as she influences people, and Janet McTeer is a delight as her loyal friend, writer Mary McCarthy."
- NOW MAGAZINE
"A fascinating little piece of history that gets molded into some very solid entertainment by an excellent leading performance."
"Intense, fearless Hannah Arendt is an apt subject for Margarethe Von Trotta and her collaborator, Barbara Sukowa" (Interview with Margarethe Von Trotta)
- NOW MAGAZINE
"German actress Barbara Sukowa is exemplary as the great 20th century thinker"
- THE GLOBE AND MAIL
"Von Trotta's best asset is Sukowa... She brings grace and conviction to a challenging role. In so doing, she bolsters the film's prevailing message about the courage it takes to grapple with the 'moral collapse' that affected every European of the era, Arendt included."
- THE GRID
"Hannah Arendt makes an unlikely screen heroine"
- THE TORONTO STAR
"Smart women tend to get labelled quickly, which is why director Margarethe Von Trotta and actor Barbara Sukowa immediately dance around the descriptions assigned to Hannah Arendt." (Interview with Margarethe Von Trotta)
- POSTMEDIA NEWS
"In the end it's not really about Israel, Eichmann, Jews or Nazis. It's the study of the banality of evil."
- WINDSOR SQUARE
"Sukowa rises to the fore in an award-worthy performance. Her diction and pitch fit the scene perfectly. This powerful climax alone is worth the price of admission."
- THE CANADIAN JEWISH NEWS