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  • Description

    This special issue of differences presents six articles on Margarethe von Trotta’s film Hannah Arendt. Michael P. Steinberg gives an introduction which focuses on the presentation and implied argument of the film, its foundation in Arendt’s 1963 articles and book Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil, and the foci and arguments of the other authors included in the issue. Margarethe von Trotta and Stephanie Galasso place the film in the context of Margarethe von Trotta's two earlier film biographies of prominent women: Rosa Luxemburg (1986) and Vision (original title: Vision—Aus dem Leben der Hildegard von Bingen, 2009). Pamela Katz discusses the process by which she and the director chose the Eichmann years as the frame for their dramatic film about Hannah Arendt, whose life was defined and derailed by exile. Bonnie Honig reads the Eichmann trial episode as one telling instance of a repetition pattern that spans Arendt’s intellectual life: Arendt thought and wrote provocatively, sometimes ruthlessly, exposing herself to condemnation and risk. Adi Ophir argues that the film correctly assumes that Arendt’s thinking on evil underwent an important change during the writing of Eichmann in Jerusalem and seeks to present this change as a key to understanding her book and the rage it spurred, which the film depicts by showing the intense labor of thinking Arendt devoted to the question of evil at the time of the trial and in the months that followed it. Ariella Azoulay addresses the challenges of making a film about a woman who denied being a public figure and added that she did not entertain any “ambition to become one.”

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