Hannah Arendt Reviews
It's quite rare to highlight philosophers and their work because it's difficult to raise academic concerns to the level of high drama. This film succeeds because it's a smart film for smart people -- people who can understand Arendt's concept of the "banality of evil." But it doesn't fully commit to its trust in the audience. While we get to see elements of the Eichmann trial from newsreel footage, we don't get inside the process of Arendt's observations. What about Eichmann led her to re-form how we think about morality and evil? Where does she see it, and how can the film show us her evidence?
The performances are all strong in a steely-eyed, hyper-intellectual way but without much vulnerability from any of the characters.
Overall, this is a strong, intelligent film.
As time goes on, Hannah Arendt would be proven right when she said that nobodies are behind the evil of the world. Except, even though he would appear like a meek bureaucrat on the stand when he is simply trying to save his skin, the same could not be said of Adolf Eichmann, as he was at the infamous Wannsee Conference and therefore one of the architects of the Final Solution. Check out the documentary "The Specialist" which is comprised solely of footage from his trial and judge for yourself.
While all around her are clambering to be told that he was the complete devil, she refers to him as a "nobody", a bureaucrat with not interest outside the operation of his department.
This leads to her most famous quote, that of "the banality of evil".
The film is unglamorous and straightforward.
It is unflattering and it remains in your mind.
The idea that ordinary people will simply do as they are told... just obey orders... especially if they have sworn to be part of an organisation (be it military, national or bureaucratic) is one that has become a major part of life through the second half of the 20th century and we still reap the results.
See the film. It is good to see such unflinching intelligence.