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Sunday, 11 May 2014

Hannah Arendt

Barbara Sukowa as Hannah Arendt
I haven't got so much out of a movie in a long time. But as I sat in the Greater Union theatre in Manuka last night, watching Klaus Pohl play Martin Heidegger in Hannah Arendt, I did feel pangs of what might be described as guilt: the guilt of a certain lacking, that at least some of it was lost on me. I imagined Richard Polt, who knows a thing or two about Heidegger (and Arendt), watching director Clint Eastwood's son Scott play Joel Stransky in Invictus. Not that Richard, I suspect, would feel any sense of lacking on that subject.
Heidegger (Klaus Pohl) and the young Hannah Arendt (Friederike Becht) in the movie.
The real Heidegger
Maybe a bit of an extreme analogy, I know (I couldn't write books on Stransky). But I did find myself constantly wondering whether Richard had seen Hannah Arendt, and if so what he thought of it. I noted in a comment on Ton Sisson's I dream lo-tech blog post that Richard had been meaning to see it back in early February. I think he will enjoy it if he does, perhaps even more than I did.
For those who haven't seen it yet, please go, if the chance arises. Essentially, the film is about Arendt's response to the 1961 trial in Jerusalem of Nazi Adolf Eichmann, which she covered for The New Yorker
The most telling thing about this movie, I felt, is that it led to an awful lot of round-table discussion afterwards about Arendt's concept of "the banality of evil", and particularly how it might apply to present-day events, even those occurring in Australia. The subject seemed to be inexhaustible, and even when the talk finally ended, the thinking went on. And on ...
Aside from what is an outstanding screenplay and great acting performances and filming, I was most taken by the endearing portrayals of William Shawn, editor of The New Yorker (played by Nicholas Woodeson), and Arendt's friend, writer Mary McCarthy (Janet McTeer). (In case anyone wonders, like me, about The New Yorker journalist "Francis Wells" (Megan Gay), she is, apparently, a "composite character". I have no idea who the pompous character "Norman" might have been, but certainly not Mailer.)
 The real William Shawn, in the early 1960s
Shawn's editing of Arendt's typescript
 Mary McCarthy with Hermes Baby
Below, director Margarethe von Trotta
Below, the real Arendt

3 comments:

Robert Messenger said...

OK, thanks for that Rino. I do suffer seriously from dyslexia, which is deteriorating rapidly with age.

Richard P said...

I admit I still haven't seen the film, but I will sooner or later. Thanks for the review.

Tom Crippen said...

The "pompous Norman" was Norman Podhoretz, who does not look or talk like his movie counterpart but who did write "The Perversity of Brilliance," a review attacking "Eichmann in Jerusalem." He was one of the first neoconservatives and continues to be a prize jerk of jerks.