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søndag 10. november 2013

Scheduled Netflix Premiere: November 18th - Hanna Arendt (von Trotta)

Hannah Arendt was a German-American thinker, and a leading intellectual of the 20th century. She outlined the structure and attraction of totalitarian thought, thus becoming a weapon against it. The tagline of the movie reads: "Her ideas changed the world", and in some sense there is truth to this. Even today, though, she remains a figure both highly admired and mired in controversy. In particular, the controversy stems from her having taken a critical stance on the creation of Israel and her assertion that some elements of the Jewish leadership had aggrevated the persecutions of the Jews before and during WWII. Arendt herself was of Jewish descent (born to secular Jews in Linden, Hannover, Germany) - and endured criticism for being a "self-loathing Jew".

Winner of Lola Award (German Oscar) for Best Actress; Barbara Sukowa

Arendt has an amazing story. She was Martin Heidegger's lover - one of the most influential philosophers of modern time - arrested by the Gestapo, a fugitive in Paris, a concentration camp escapee and later the first fully tenured female professor at Princeton university.

More than anything, though, she is remembered for a series of articles in the New Yorker in connection with the trial of Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem, 1961. Arendt was dispatched to cover the trial for the American magazine. In the articles, and in a subsequent book based thereon, she portrays Eichmann as a dilligent bureaucrat motivated by petty notions of simply getting ahead and feeling useful by performing his tasks loyally - rather than a monster motivated by a flaming hatred or ideology.

The Nazi War Criminal Adolf Eichmann on trial in Jerusalem
 This troubled a lot of people and many also objected to her term "the banality of evil", used to illustrate that the dangers to mankind came not only from flawed ideology, but a lack of ability to stand back and reflect on one's actions. Arendt was critical to a deep trait in human beings of wanting to be "of use", and therefore performing duties in a mechanical, automated fashion, eying efficiency and not a proper understanding of what it is one is actually doing. Arendt advocated reflection and after-thought. She used Eichman as an example of a person who, indeed, was law-abiding, but in a system of evil.

Margarethe von Trotta's movie explores the ideas and thoughts Hannah Arrendt came to develop, and her relentless struggles against totalitarianism in any guise. Her relation to her ideas, and to other people and history.

Barbara Sukowa has received high praises for her role as the German-American thinker (Arendt did not refer to herself as a philosopher). In the supporting cast, we find many strong German actors.

Imdb's: Margarethe von Trotta, Hannah Arendt, Barbara Sukowa 

Article on Arendt's coverage of the Eichmann trial

Arendt's wiki contains information on the controversy around Arendt's Israel stance

One hour German interview with English subtitles

Trailer on youtube

Martin Heidegger's wiki

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