(Português) Hannah Arendt (2012), de Margarethe von Trotta
The work of the German filmmaker Margarethe von Trotta stands out due to its impactful portraits of female protagonists, with a political and social charged environment. The Leaden Time (1981) and Rosa Luxemburg (1986) are examples of this reality.
Produced in 2012, Hannah Arendt, portrayed by Barbara Sukowa, is no exception. The German Jewish philosopher and politician, exiled in the United States since 1941, became a noteworthy figure for her research and study of political and socio-economic systems, such as totalitarianism and education, while also questioning the role of women in society. She published several literary works, including: The Origins of Totalitarianism (1951), The Human Condition (1958) and Eichmann in Jerusalem: a report on the banality of evil (1963).
The film takes us back to 1960. Arendt is sent to Jerusalem by the New Yorker magazine to cover the trial of the Nazi Adolf Eichmann in Israel, one of the main figures behind the deportation of Jews during the Holocaust, who had been on the run for 15 years, having been captured in May 1960, and found guilty of crimes against humanity. He was sentenced to death and hanged on 1 June 1962.
The report, published in five different pieces, was particularly controversial, since Arendt tried to argue that not all those who committed war crimes deserved to be judged in the same way. Although she never denied the crimes perpetrated by the Nazis, she defended that some of those men were not thinking elements, they were instead merely following orders. Eichmann, described by the philosopher as a bureaucrat, a mere puppet, could not discern the difference between Good and Evil. In the book Eichmann in Jerusalem: a report on the banality of evil, Arendt argues: “Of course it is important to the political and social sciences that the essence of totalitarianism, and perhaps the nature of every bureaucracy, is to make functionaries and mere cogs in the administrative machinery out of men, and thus to dehumanize them”. One of the arguments to support her theory.
Nevertheless, she goes even further by declaring that not all Jews were exempt from guilt, because they collaborated with the Nazis, thus becoming captives of a single deterministic thought that made them unable to form moral judgments. Her claims caused an uproar in the Jewish community due to the relativization of the terror experienced by it, a true descent to hell, referring to Arendt as a cruel and amoral person. For others, it was an act of courage and an innovative and holistic view of the Holocaust.
Arendt remained faithful to her own convictions to the very end, adding that the trial was conditioned by political agents, whose intent was to turn it into simple media propaganda.
If, on the one hand, we see in Arendt traits such as intelligence and tenacity, on the other we feel in her an unsettling arrogance and coldness.
Did Arendt ever consider herself a Jew? It’s a fact, almost impossible to forget her position in relation to her own folk (were they her folk?!). It must be said that she was never deported.
The film generates some reflections and restlessness. A naturally dense story, encircled in a gloomy and heavy environment. Barbara Sukowa is nothing short of outstanding in her portrayal.