Directed by Margarethe von Trotta, previously an actor who worked for Fassbinder and Schlondorff, the film takes a look at the life of philosopher and political theorist Hannah Arendt, who reported for The New Yorker on the war crimes trial of the Nazi Adolf Eichmann.One of von Trotta’s previous film’s, the great ‘Rosa Luxemburg’ (1986), treated us to an exhilarating and sober view of 1940s Germany under Fascism, and proved that knack for making a compelling academic and philosophical narrative from the life of a challenging historical figure.
Here her biopic about political theorist Hannah Arendt mentions briefly Arendt's (Barbara Sukowa) background as a German-Jew forced to flee France for America in the early '40s during the German military occupation, while grounding itself just prior to her work writing about the Adolf Eichmann trial for The New Yorker.
To fill out her vision of contemplation, the director has skillfully woven actual footage from the Eichmann trial into the film, giving “Hannah Arendt” a touch of authenticity as the viewer observes the overwhelming passions that consumed the participants.
The film is to some extent like the featured trial a political manifesto about the nature of evil and human complacency in Nazi Germany. It is a fascinating academic thriller that captures the anguish Arendt felt when confronted with the impossibility of reconciling herself to her own people while maintaining her honesty and academic integrity despite being championed by friend Mary McCarthy (Janet McTeer). A fascinating story told with wonderfully appropriate restraint.