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The Boston Globe

Movies

Getting behind ‘the banality of evil’

NEW YORK — Director Margarethe von Trotta’s trademark is portraying complex German/Jewish women, ranging from “Rosa Luxemburg,” her biopic about the early 20th-century Jewish revolutionary to “Vision,” about 12th-century German Benedictine nun and composer Hildegard of Bingen. Both films starred von Trotta’s go-to actress, Barbara Sukowa.

But with Hannah Arendt von Trotta faced a challenge that would send most filmmakers running for a simple love story or tale of triumph. Arendt was a famous German-Jewish intellectual and philosopher in modern times. How does a director visually depict the inner life of a woman known mainly for her ideas? How does one make a movie in which thinking is the driving action?

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