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7:30pm International Film Series: “Hannah Arendt”
December 15, 2017 @ 7:30 pm - 10:00 pm
I-House and United Nations Association – Davis Chapter co-sponsors the screening of free international films (with subtitles) on the first and third Fridays of each month from September – May. Refreshments are served at 7:30pm, and films begin at 8:00pm. Donations are appreciated. In addition to the United Nations series, I-House offers a variety of mini film festivals throughout the year.
Hannah Arendt (2012, Germany/Luxembourg/France/Israel, directed by Margarethe von Trotta, 113 min.)
Hannah Arendt (Barbara Sukowa) was a prominent German-Jewish philosopher and political theorist. The
film takes place from 1960-64 and is centered on the 1961 trial of Adolph Eichmann in Jerusalem. Arendt,
who escaped from the “detention” camp Gurs in the early forties, was then a professor in New York. She
volunteers to cover the trial for The New Yorker, despite her husband Heinrich Blücher’s (Axel Milberg)
opposition, and gets the assignment. As she watches the proceedings (shown in black and white original
footage) and hears testimony of survivors and the prosecutor, she comes to realize that Eichmann, rather
than a monster, was a mediocre bureaucrat who blindly followed orders and was incapable of thinking for himself.
She also realizes that this is not a trial about Nazi war crimes in general, but a trial of one man who
she believes was responsible for crimes against humanity. It takes her two years, assisted by Lotte Köhler
(Julia Jentsch), to finalize her article, with New Yorker editor William Shawn (Nicholas Woodeson) urging
her on while she struggles with Eichmann’s rationalizing his behavior with platitudes about loyalty and just
doing his job. Her theory of “the banality of evil” rests on the belief that appropriately motivated, all
humans are capable of inhuman acts. Her writing created great controversy and lost her many friends. One
friend, novelist Mary McCarthy (Janet McTeer), stuck by Arendt throughout. The film ends with a speech
about her conclusions to a group of students. A thought provoking film relevant to today.