by director : Margarethe VON TROTTA - Germany
Philosopher Hanna Arendt (1905-1975) has studied philosophy with Martin Heidegger, with whom she is known to have embarked on a love affair. In the wake of their breakups, Arendt moved to Heidelberg, where she wrote her dissertation, under the existentialist philosopher-psychologist Karl Jaspers, on the concept of love in the thought of Saint Augustine. Married in 1929, divorced in 1937, she remarried in 1940, with German poet and Marxist philosopher Heinrich Blücher. With her mother, the two barely escaped word war II and deportation of the Jews by moving to New York in 1941, helped by (American) Varian Fry in paying for their travels and securing the visas.
At the time of Arendt romantic relationship, Martin Heidegger write his first and outstanding academic book Being and Time (German title: Sein und Zeit), published in 1927, in order to qualify for Husserl's chair at the University of Freiburg. The success of this work ensured his appointment to the post. In his book, he investigates the question of Being, names this being “Dasein”, and pursues its investigation through themes such as mortality, care, anxiety, temporality, and historicity. It was Heidegger's original intention to write a second half of the book, but he never completed this project. Being and Time influenced many thinkers, including such existentialist thinkers as Jean-Paul Sartre.
Because of Heidegger's support for the Nazi (National Socialism) party when he was rector of Freiburg University. Heidegger last as a controversial figure, since he neither apologized nor expressed regret (except may be in private when he called it "the biggest stupidity of his life" / "die größte Dummheit seines Lebens").
German scholar Antonia Grunenberg, in her book Hannah Arendt und Martin Heidegger, insist on Arendt mix feeling toward Heidegger, but nevertheless underline her life long loyalties toward the philosopher in helping on translation and diffusion of his work and thought in America.Von Trotta’s film (in german & english language) depicts, not a biopic, but a life episod of the philosopher and writer Hannah Arendt. The Origins of Totalitarianism (1951) made her famous in philosophical circles before her controversial chronicle in The New Yorker of Nazi Adolf Eichmann’s 1961 trial for war crimes. Her chronicle brought her to broader international celebrity. Focusing on the Eichmann era, actress Barbara Sukowa (had performed in previous film as Rosa Luxembourg in von Trotta) embodies the academic Arendt, who observes that it is the ordinariness of Eichmann : “He looks like a nobody” that leads her to fashion her most startling/controversial concept the “banality of evil” while her reporting on collaborating German Jew leaders causes a firestorm of protest.
Epilogue : Banned for years, due to its polemical stand, Arendt book's Eichmann in Jerusalem has been translated into Hebrew only recently.