The problem is that von Trotta has chosen an episode in Arendt’s life where the stakes were so high, intellectually and morally, that they cannot in good taste be treated as the backdrop of a human interest story. Though the battle may be lost, it can never be emphasized enough that the Holocaust is not an acceptable occasion for sentimental journeys. But here it’s made into one, which produces weird, cringe-inducing moments for the viewer.
In one shot we are watching Eichmann testify or Arendt arguing about the nature of evil; in the next her husband is patting her behind as they cook dinner. When Blücher tries to leave one morning without kissing her, since “one should never disturb a great philosopher when they’re thinking,” she replies, “but they can’t think without kisses!”
Sunday, November 03, 2013
At the NYRB (gated for subscribers), Mark Lilla on Margarethe von Trotta's film about Hannah Arendt and the Eichmann trial: