If there is an Oscar for the category, “best glorification of the life of the mind” then Hannah Arendt deserves it. Rarely have the classroom and the writing desk glowed with more fervor on-screen than in Margarethe Von Trotta’s biopic of the acclaimed Jewish political theorist.
It’s a winning presentation. Barbara Sukowa’s Arendt is a lantern-jawed hero of independent thought, steely-eyed in the face of criticism.
And that criticism is stiff, for Hannah Arendt chooses to center its drama around Arendt’s coverage of the Adolf Eichmann trial and the writing of the subsequent book, Eichmann in Jerusalem — a period in Arendt’s life when she was embroiled in controversy. The film makes much of this drama, reminding the viewers that what is now familiar in the history of ideas was once too hot to handle.