Hannah Arendt

The Swedish church in Lund organizes movie nights in the movie theater across the street in order to attract young people to the church. Yesterday they watched "Hannah Arendt", and I managed to get free tickets to tag along, even though I don't really pass for 25 any more.

I was planning on seeing this film by Margarethe von Trotta anyway, so it was perfect - and shown in German, English, and Hebrew with Swedish subtitles in a very comfy, oldish theater. Ooooh, I didn't realize that Axel Milberg, my second-favorite Tatort-Kommissar (Jan Leifers is, of course, in first place) would be playing such a major role!

Hannah Arendt is a German philosopher who escaped Europe and is teaching in New York when the Eichmann Trials begin in Israel. Eichmann was kidnapped in South America and brought to Israel to be put on trial. Arendt is sent by the New Yorker to report on the trial. The film uses real footage of Eichmann and of people testifying. Eichmann is not a monster, but just a guy doing his job. A terrible job it is, getting rid of the Jews, but for him it's just a job to be done.

Arendt, who had studied with (and loved) Heidegger, spends a lot of time thinking about thinking - and about what it means to be evil. Her report for the New Yorker is not what they expected, as she portrays him as he is, just a cog in the system. And she points out that there were Jewish leaders who collaborated with the Nazis - they, too, are to blame. An uproar ensues with people who did not actually read her article threatening her and sending hate mail, calling her anti-Jewish and a whore, the precursor to today's shitstorms.

She defends herself in a brilliant lecture, losing her Jewish friend Hans Jonas, who is not able to accept her position as he is 100 % pro Zionist.

The characters of Arendt and her partner Heinrich Blücher are wonderfully played. I feel so comfortable looking at their apartment and can really feel the depth of their characters. Irritating was the constant smoking, although that may actually have been the case at that time that professors smoked in the lecture. Must have been hard on the smokers in the audience, seeing everyone up on the screen being allowed to smoke. Although they could smoke on the way over to the church for coffee and cookies and talking after the film.

I ordered two books of Arendts today, I really think I need to know more about her and her work. And the film was great - go see it, if you have a chance.

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