One of the most engaging, yet controversial, public intellectuals of the twentieth century, Hannah Arendt continues to be attacked with the same venom and ferocity that followed the publication of Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil (1963) more than fifty years ago. This article discusses why Arendt remains such a divisive figure and why her intellectual legacy is still so unsettling, particularly for Zionists. The essay examines how these issues are represented, negotiated, and problematized in Margarethe von Trotta’s film Hannah Arendt (Germany/ Luxembourg/France, 2012). It explores how one of the most prominent contemporary feminist filmmakers, whose work celebrates the life and activism of revolutionary women from Rosa Luxemburg to Gudrun Ensslin from the Red Army Faction, transforms the “historical Arendt” into a “cinematic Arendt.” Although not a revolutionary in the tradition of Luxemburg, the German-Jewish political thinker Arendt is an interesting choice for a left-leaning, post-Holocaust German woman director. Yet Arendt presents a paradox for feminists due to the contradictions embedded in her works and public pronouncements. The article examines these contradictions and how Arendt emerges from this film, which attempts to portray a politically engaged intellectual woman, a figure that is almost entirely absent from the film screen.

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