The great Barbara Sukowa returns to VFF screens after last being seen in the Festival favourite Vision, also a Margarathe von Trotta film. Hannah Arendt is a refreshingly intelligent film about one of the most influential thinkers of the twentieth century. The film explores the creation of Arendt’s concept of the banality of evil and the controversy that surrounded it.
Hannah Arendt explores the years in which the philosopher / political theorist travelled to Jerusalem in 1961 for the trial of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann, and then published her controversial work The Banality of Evil in which she attempted to understand how a person, with society’s permission, can act in such an unthinking, almost offhanded ignorance of the consequences of one's actions.
Sukowa commands the screen as Arendt, for she is in nearly every frame of the film and is introduced sitting alone, silent and smoking. Without speaking a word she conveys the isolation, the spirit and the fierce intellect of this formidable woman — one who sought to bring what her mentor and lover Heidegger once described as "the lonely business of thinking" directly into the public realm, to transform philosophy from intellectual abstraction into practical political action.
Von Trotta has created a dynamic provocative film whose drama stems from the questions provoked by Arendt’s writings.