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Actuality of Banality: Eyal Sivan's The Specialist in Context

Some forty years after the publication of Hannah Arendt's controversial book Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil, the Israeli-born filmmaker Eyal Sivan released his documentary film The Specialist, explicitly referring to Arendt's work. Sivan took archive footage filmed in 1961, during the trial of Nazi criminal Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem, and edited it to present a cinematic articulation of Arendt's book. The film discusses the fundamental flaws in the way the trial was conducted as well as the nature of Eichmann's crimes.

This article analyzes Sivan's use of narrative, editing, visual, and auditory stylistic devices to expose the way the trial was used by the Zionist movement and to challenge its active role within Zionist collective memory. If interpreted as part of a more general post-Zionist artistic and intellectual production, The Specialist could be understood as deconstructing the accused / accuser dichotomy, and suggesting that the accusers and their contemporary heirs might themselves be guilty of some of the charges made against the defendant.

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