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Vita Activa: The Spirit of Hannah Arendt  (2015)

2 hr 4 min  |   English  |  Canada, France  |  Ada Ushpiz

The life story of Hannah Arendt, one of the most influential women in the twentieth century, is also a fascinating personal story, full of contradictions, double loyalties, blunders and accomplishments.
Born in 1906, Arendt dedicated her life to understanding the connection between evil and morality. At the same time, as a German Jew she was tied to her homeland by friendships, lovers, family, language and culture. She did not only write the story of her time, but was also a part of it. Her personal biography unfolds from one historical juncture to another and soon becomes the biography of half a century, with the banality of evil as one of its most prominent characteristics. Arendt arrived in Jerusalem in 1962 in order to report on the Eichmann trial. Her book, Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil, was a turning point in her life. She was lauded, but she was also reviled, especially by some of her Jewish and Israeli contemporaries. For the generation born in Israel after 1948, in a recognized state, Arendt’s writings were a discovery. Arendt was seen more and more as one who had been ahead of her time and had seen the dangers of nationalism. Vita Activa unfolds as a spiritual and emotional journey, through Hannah Arendt’s writings and letters. It is a story of a woman who protested against the tendency to disconnect philosophy from politics. Hannah Arendt speaks to all of us today with her uncompromising vision and way of looking at the world.