When Hannah Arendt (Barbara Sukowa) enters the courtroom in Jerusalem in 1961 to report on the trial against the Nazi criminal Adolf Eichmann for the renowned The New Yorker, she expects meeting a monster. Instead, she experiences a nobody. Eichmann’s vapid mediocrity doesn’t fit to the abysmal evil of his deeds. This contradiction is something that strongly preoccupies Hannah Arendt. Back in New York, she reads hundreds of records of the case, does research, discusses with her husband Heinrich Blüchler (Axel Milberg) and her friends. Starting in February 1963, her series of articles titled Eichmann in Jerusalem is published in The New Yorker. With her proposition of the ‘banality of evil’, Arendt shocks the world. The responses are devastating. Hannah Arendt is ostracized, met with hostility and loses lifelong friends. She is hit hard by the incomprehension of her friends, less by the smear campaigns launched by numerous media. Yet she consistently sticks to her stance, fighting and avoiding no disputes when themes such as totalitarianism and power that are so important to her are at issue. For she wants to understand, even if that means ‘thinking to where it hurts’.
Germany/France/Israel, 2013, 112 min.