Hannah Arendt

Thurs., Oct. 3, 7:30 p.m.
Fri., Oct. 4, 7:30 p.m.
Sun., Oct. 6, 7:30 p.m. Town & Gown Movie Night

Directed by Margarethe von Trotta • Screenplay by Pam Katz and Margarethe von Trotta • 113 min. •  Germany | Luxembourg | France • 2013 • Not Rated • In German with English subtitles

German-Jewish thinker Hannah Arendt (1906–1975) rejected the label “philosopher,” arguing that philosophy concerned itself with “man in the singular,” while instead “men, not Man, live on the earth and inhabit the world.” As a result she preferred the term “political theorist,” and her writings focused on power, politics, democracy, authority, and totalitarianism. In 1961, she covered the trial of Adolf Eichmann for The New Yorker, which evolved into her landmark book Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil (1963), coining the term “banality of evil.” (Her coverage was not without its controversy—she was critical of the way the trial had been conducted in Israel—and she became a pariah in the Jewish community.) Margarethe von Trotta’s 2013 biopic stars Barbara Sukowa as Arendt, and centers on the Eichmann trial, weaving actual archival footage of the trial into a narrative that captures the influential thinker at a pivotal moment in her life and career, and turns a passion for thought into immersive, dramatic cinema. No mean feat, that.

Our Sunday screening of Hannah Arendt serves as this month’s Town & Gown Movie Night. Curator/presenter: Robert Boyers.

Skidmore College Professor of English Robert Boyers is one of the nation’s foremost experts on German director Margarethe von Trotta. The founder of Skidmore’s esteemed New York State Summer Summer Writers Institute, Boyers has organized an academic conference and several panels on von Trotta’s work, and curated a six-film von Trotta film festival on the campus in 2007. Editor-in-chief of the literary journal Salmagundi, Boyers dedicated an issue to essays about von Trotta’s pioneering role in the New German Cinema, and was on hand for the filming of Hannah Arendt in 2012. More generally, Boyers is one of Saratoga’s most devoted advocates for film literacy and appreciation. For 40 years, he has urged his students to consider the uses of great cinema in his popular film course, English 217. An author of several books of essays and short stories, Boyers has been published in Harpers, The New Republic, and the Yale Review.

The Town & Gown Series, now in its second season, brings Skidmore educators whose work has been profoundly shaped by film to the Film Forum theater to discuss a movie of their choice. This program received funding from the Skidmore College Office of Community Relations, and from the Saratoga Program for Arts Funding, administered by Saratoga Arts, and made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the New York Legislature.


Official Web site for Hannah Arendt

Hannah Arendt at IMDb

“Barbara Sukowa’s performance in the title role is the kind that reverberates long after the screen goes black.” —Sheri Linden, Los Angeles Times (full review)

“Once we get to the Eichmann trial and its aftermath, it’s mesmerizing.” —Andrew O’Hehir, Salon.com (full review)

“My only real problem with Hannah Arendt is that it’s not a mini-series.” —A.O. Scott, New York Times (full review)