Director: Margarethe von Trotta

113 minutes, Germany, 2012, Colour, D-Cinema

Margarethe von Trotta’s discerning film-portrait explores one of the most significant moments in German-American Hannah Arendt’s distinguished and hugely influential career as a political theorist.

Set in 1961, 20 years after Arendt fled occupied France for New York, the film focuses initially on the Jewish writer’s revelatory experience reporting on the Jerusalem-set trial of chief Nazi bureaucrat and Holocaust organiser Adolf Eichmann and then addresses the impact, both personal and professional, of her fiercely debated conclusions.

Alongside archive footage from the trial itself, Barbara Sukowa’s depiction of Arendt as she comes to terms with Eichmann, whom she so memorably described as altogether more banal than the monster she anticipated, is both convincing and compelling. Moreover, the issues at the centre of this fascinating and wholly deserving character study, about the real nature and meaning of evil, are as pertinent as ever. (Notes by Alice Butler.)

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