Hannah Arendt – 2.5

What is it with cigarettes and movies? Although smoking has not been a part of “the world I live in” for 40 years or more, 80% of the movies I see have a scene with a character who lights up. Is this the only way to tell us we are in the 1950s, or that someone is stressed, or bored, or – in the case of Hannah Arendt – is “thinking”? And since this movie is all about “thinking,” there is nary a scene that does not involve Hannah and/or other characters lighting up or just lying there, puffing away. Even Mr. Shawn gets in on the act. The cigarette intrusions got to be quite distracting, not that there was that much to distract from. The American characters were all portrayed as a German director would portray them, which added a farcical element to what strived to be a deeply philosophical film. The crux of the trouble, though, was that the story turned on Arendt’s alleged condemnation of Jewish leaders in connection with the Holocaust without indicating where this theory came from. Thus, we had to weigh the pros and cons of this argument without any underlying facts. What did come through – also interestingly from the German director – was the rabid irrationality of the Jewish community, in Israel and America, an attitude that persists in the so-called “Jewish lobby” today with similar consequences. Barbara Sukowa gave a serious performance, smoking aside, but the actors around her came across as amateurs.

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