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Heard of the term “˜the banality of evil?’ Hannah Arendt, a 20th century German-Jewish philosopher, coined this oxymoron. Margarethe von Trotta’s new biopic looks at a controversial period in Arendt’s life: just after she wrote an infamous New Yorker essay introducing her “˜banality’ theory, in relation to a Nuremberg trial for a former Nazi official. Her much-maligned argument? Evil is not necessarily vicious or passionate, but can come from an absence of thought.

Margarethe von Trotta squeezes a lot of information (a life) into a small space and succeeds in making things coherent and engaging. I enjoyed Hannah Arendt – however, I had that odd feeling I often have when watching biopics: that they’re not really movies or art, but some weird education-entertainment (edutainment?) combination. While the film looks good, moments still feel like a government-commissioned docudrama made for TV – especially regarding some of the acting. If you can get beyond this occasional odd style, though, Hannah Arendt’s story – not to mention her philosophy – deserves to be told.

Is Hannah Arendt Essential TIFF Viewing?

Hannah Arendt has its moments and its subject, evil and politics, has timely ripples today (the axis of evil…). For all the philosophers and political folks out there, see Hannah Arendt . For rabid cinephiles, this one may not be necessary.

Hannah Arendt Screening Times

  • Thursday, September 13, 2012 at 11:00 am at the Elgin theatre
  • Saturday, September 15, 2012 at 7:30 pm at Cineplex Yonge & Dundas 6

More About Hannah Arendt

Hannah Arendt Trailer

Hannah Arendt Production Gallery