Margarethe von Trotta
Festival year: 2014
Biopic about German-Jewish philosopher Hannah Arendt who observed the trial against Adolf Eichmann for the New Yorker. Her findings about ‘the banality of evil’ still stir controversy.
German-Jewish philosopher Hannah Arendt fled to the United States to escape the Nazi regime. She worked there as a journalist and teacher, and was granted American citizenship in 1951. Ten years later, she accepted a job at The New Yorker and attends the trial against SS officer Adolf Eichmann in Israel as an observer. She resumes her findings in the book The banality of Evil, which stirs huge controversy. According to Arendt, few people can truly be considered monsters and most Nazi officers, despite their atrocious acts, were ‘ordinary people’ who happened to be part of a well-oiled machine. In her opinion that is exactly what makes the phenomenon so dangerous: almost everyone can at one time or another be tempted to participate in organized mass violence. Even nondescript men like Eichmann. The Holocaust could unfold quite smoothly because it relied on a bureaucratic system in which well-behaved civilians simply followed orders. She has been criticized for expressing this point of view.
Germany 2012, 110 min.
Spoken language: German, English, French, Hebrew
Official website: http://www.zeitgeistfilms.com/hannaharendt
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