Hannah Arendt (12A)

  • 12A
  • Margarethe von Trotta (2012)
  • Ger / Lux / Fr (SUB)
  • 113 min
Film Review
Reviewed By
4 out of 5

Actress Barbara Sukowa and director Margarethe von Trotta were acclaimed for their 1986 collaboration Rosa Luxemburg, and here they shed light on the life of another formidable 20th-century woman, the German-Jewish political theorist Hannah Arendt. Not so much a biopic - though Arendt's flight from persecution in 1937 and her affair with mentor-turned-Nazi sympathiser Martin Heidegger are touched upon - von Trotta's lucid, thoughtful drama focuses on the renowned scholar's attendance at the trial of Nazi chief Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem in 1961 and the fallout from her New Yorker articles and resulting book in which she coined the touchstone phrase, "the banality of evil", with regard to the Final Solution. The idea that one of the architects of the Holocaust could be "a nobody", a bureaucrat who "only obeyed orders", as well as Arendt's assertion that some Jewish leaders were complicit in what happened, unleashed a torrent of hostility from Zionist friends and other intellectuals in her adopted American home, which threatened to destroy her career. Sukowa is quietly impressive as the chain-smoking thinker, Janet McTeer stands out as Arendt's fiercely loyal friend Mary McCarthy, the period is subtly rendered and the climactic defence of her ideas before a class of students and critics is a stirring and thought-provoking coda.

Plot Summary

Fact-based drama about the German political theorist and philosopher, following her assignment in 1961 to report on the trial of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann for the New York Times. Her coverage of the proceedings proves controversial, but highly influential in shaping public understanding of evil. Starring Barbara Sukowa and Janet McTeer. In German, French, Hebrew, English and Latin.

Cast and crew


Hannah Arendt
Barbara Sukowa
Mary McCarthy
Janet McTeer
Lotte Köhler
Julia Jentsch
Heinrich Blücher
Axel Milberg
Hans Jonas
Ulrich Noethen
Kurt Blumenfeld
Michael Degen
William Shawn
Nicholas Woodeson
Martin Heidegger
Klaus Pohl (2)


Margarethe von Trotta

Other Information

German, French, English, Hebrew, Latin +subtitles
Colour and Black and White
Theatrical distributor: 
Soda Pictures
Some swearing, sexual references.
Released 27 Sep 2013