German Cinema in the Crossroads
As part of Wunderbar Together: Year of German-American Friendship
, Goethe Pop Up Kansas City invites everyone to discover contemporary German cinema. Each film will be shown in German with English subtitles.
This screening of Hannah Arendt
from German director Margarethe von Trotta will tie in with our current exhibition of Holocaust remembrance project LEST WE FORGET
at the National WWI Museum and Memorial. A discussion after the film led by Dr. Scott Baker of UMKC will examine, among other things, themes and ideas relevant to both the film and this exhibition.
Germany | Luxembourg | France | Israel 2012, 113 min
Margarethe von Trotta
Barbara Sukowa, Axel Milberg, Janet McTeer
In April 1961, the German-Jewish political philosopher Hannah Arendt left her New York exile for Jerusalem to report on the Adolf Eichmann trial for The New Yorker
. She is determined to a direct confrontation with those people whose behavior under the Nazi regime she wants to understand. When Arendt's articles appear they unleash a worldwide wave of out rage. She sees Eichmann not as the monster world opinion does, but recognizes him as a pen-pushing killer who wanted to carry out his task to the best of his ability and feels no guilt because he was merely following orders.
For her, Eichmann was the embodiment of the "banality of evil", a phrase that resounds to this very day. "The trouble with Eichmann," Arendt wrote, "was precisely that so many were like him, and that the many were neither perverted nor sadistic, that they were, and still are, terribly and terrifyingly normal. From the viewpoint of our legal institutions and of our moral standards of judgment, this normality was much more terrifying than all the atrocities put together."
Arendt's courageous perception has international consequences. She is despised, vilified, loses lifelong friends. She maintains, however, her consistent posture, seeking to understand, even if that means "thinking till it hurts."
The film Hannah Arendt
focuses on the scandal caused by Arendt’s analysis of the Eichmann Trial for war crimes in Jerusalem in 1961. In spite of the scandal, Arendt insisted on her right to freedom of speech as a journalist and as a university professor. We will discuss the consequences of her stance, both in the context of the events depicted in the film, as well as more generally for American society today.
Dr. Scott Baker is Associate Professor of German at the University of Missouri Kansas City (UMKC) and will lead the discussion after the film.