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Thoughtlessness and the Optics of Moral Argument: Screening the Spectacle of Eichmann - Part 3

A presentation by Valerie Hartouni, University of California, San Diego

Duration: 14:35

Eyal Sivan and Rony Brauman’s 1999 documentary The Specialist is a densely edited visual text that restages the trial through Arendt’s argument and attempts to recover one of the missed opportunities Arendt identified in her trial report to understand a new kind of criminal and crime. And yet, examining, specifically, the logic of a sequence within the film in which we watch an apparently indifferent Eichmann watching footage shot by American and Russian troops as they moved across Europe liberating concentration camps, the narrative direction of the film inadvertently shifts and, with this shift, seems to reproduce precisely the problem it seeks to challenge. Despite the film’s best critical efforts, the apathetic indifference of Sivan and Braumann’s Eichmann situates spectators on a familiar discursive field where the question of Eichmann remains primarily a question of pathology rather than politics, an absence of feeling rather than thought.

Center for Near Eastern Studies