Worthwhile watch: Hannah Arendt

We rented this film on iTunes last night. It is one of the most entertaining and thought-provoking works I have seen in a while. Film maker Margarethe von Trotta made some brilliant choices in telling this story of the real life events that found German philosopher and writer Hannah Arendt reporting for the The New Yorker on the war crimes trial of Nazi Adolf Eichmann. The real life footage of Eichmann’s testimony is skillfully interwoven into this narrative focused on friendship, love and thought.

This film examines the thinking and rationalizations after World War II rather than the war crimes themselves. As a concentration camp survivor and world-renowned political theorist, Arendt begins her attendance and coverage of Eichmann’s trial looking for understanding of human behavior. In the process she finds not the simple black and white of monsters and heroes, but a complex web of culpability that divides and infuriates many of her contemporaries. Here is the trailer.

In the end Arendt concludes that it is each individual’s ability to think for ourselves that defines our humanity. Good reminder amid the intense spin and pull of mainstream thinking and consensus views in our own time.

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