Through the Lens of Arendt Film Club


Extreme situations, particularly ones of crisis, uncover a person’s true character and values – who they are and where they really operate from.

Through The Lens of Arendt:

  • introduces the powerful ideas of Hannah Arendt for thinking afresh about judgment and their impact on how we relate to others
  • visits the decision-making of three people facing the same situation
  • demonstrates how to use Arendt’s ideas to understand how people think and act differently
  • enhances film watching experience and observational skills

Over four months (six fortnightly sessions), participants will watch four films, engage in a two-hour exploration of some of Arendt’s most powerful ideas and practice their application. There will also be an Ideas Session and a Capstone session.

The Films

Hannah Arendt (2012)

Participants will first watch Hannah Arendt (2012) which focuses on Arendt’s report on the Eichmann trial to get a sense of her way of thinking. They will see a person seeking to understand the circumstances that led ordinary people to do extraordinary things of an ‘evil’ nature.

We will use this film as a springboard to introduce participants to a person of original and independent thought and to some of her key ideas that will be exercised and practiced in the programme.

Eichmann (2007)

The second film is Eichmann (2007) and it will enable participants to start using Arendt’s concepts to understand the phenomenon of ordinary people acting unthinkingly and amorally in organisations.

As we look at Eichmann as a Senior Logistics Manager, Arendt’s ideas around thoughtfulness and judgment will surface and will be contrasted with ‘choice-making’, with which we have daily, if unconsidered, familiarity.

Sophie Scholl: The Final Days (2005)

The third film in the series is Sophie Scholl: The Final Days (2005) which, in contrast to Eichmann, shows three young student members of the White Rose group who, at the risk of their lives, distributed leaflets to instruct Germans to resist passively the demands for subordination.

Despite their young age, their experience shows that thinking independently and thoughtfully is an ability open to all and gives you the conviction to act differently.

Bonhoeffer (2013) 

The last film of the series is the four-session video-based study guide Bonhoeffer (2013) about another thoughtful German, Lutheran theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Unlike his colleagues, Bonhoeffer developed an independent theology which promoted judgment and independent thinking, and led others to do the same,  despite the extreme pressures of his time.

Who will benefit?

  • People wishing to practice independent thinking, go beyond the ‘empathy fad’, and engage in genuine dialogues
  • Those wishing to grow their minds and to better understand people and relationships and explore where they operate from
  • Team leaders responsible for building and sustaining effective teams capable of putting themselves in the place of others


The real-life cases in this Film Club show how people thought and acted differently from each other – some thoughtfully, others thoughtlessly – and allow participants to explore the impact of this thinking. As a result, they will be in a better position to:

  • Sense how their words and actions are affecting people
  • Hold high quality and purposeful conversations
  • Build and sustain effective teams capable of putting themselves in the place of others
  • Build a culture of transparency, responsibility and accountability in their businesses
  • Make independent thinking a habit
  • Make judicious judgment calls
  • Challenge and go beyond fads and buzzwords, e.g. ‘empathy’
  • Foster connections that may lead them to experiment and innovate