Germany | 2013 | Fiction | English and German w/English subtitles
Run Time: 113 minutes
Film source: Zeitgeist Films
Sponsor: Institute for Civic Engagement
Q&A with: Sandy Baird
A complex and compelling biopic of one of the most original thinkers of the 20th Century, Hannah Arendt delves deeply into the philosophical and personal life of its title character. The film marks the sixth cinematic collaboration between director Margarethe von Trotta, one of the leading figures of the New German Cinema, and star Barbara Sukowa, one of that movements most important performers. Sukowa’s nuanced performance reveals the deeply personal emotions that underpin – sometimes complicatedly – Arendt’s groundbreaking philosophy. Hannah Arendt shuttles back and forth between Arendt’s middle age, when she developed and refined her theory of evil, and her youth, when she studied with Martin Heidegger, whose subsequent affiliation with the Nazi Party caused her to call her own work into question. In its early scenes of Arendt covering the trial of Adolf Eichmann for The New Yorker, Von Trotta boldly blends actuality footage of the courtroom proceedings with her film’s “regular” fiction scenes, thereby encouraging the viewer to consider, as Arendt herself did, the links between past and present.
Director’s statement: This is a film that shows Arendt as a person caught between her thoughts and her emotions—one who often has to disentangle her intellect from her feelings. We see her as a passionate thinker and professor; as a woman capable of lifelong friendship—she was hailed as a woman who was a “genius at friendship”—but also as a fighter who courageously defended her ideas and never shied away from any confrontation. But her goal was always to understand. Her signature declaration, “I want to understand,” is the phrase that best describes her.