Author: Rolando Pérez Betancourt | email@example.com
April 22, 2018 20:04:56
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
Next May 5, 200 years after the birth of Karl Marx, this proven director, who is undoubtedly the Haitian Raoul Peck, made the German film The Young Karl Marx in 2017, a film to which even those who do not sympathize with Marxism have had to grant him artistic merit and the rigor of the concepts on which it is based.
The film tells of two young people who did not know firsthand the ruthless exploitation of capitalism in their day – and of course the other is Frederick Engels – and yet set in motion a movement that overflowed the antagonistic politics of their time and has inspired the emancipatory yearnings of millions of people around the world over the course of a century and a half.
Biographical notes on some lives and events that began in 1843 and ended in 1848 with the edition of the Communist Manifesto, years in which Marx and Engels met and solidified an eternal friendship. The director Raoul Peck, adapting himself to the didactic demands of the biopic, shows that even in a genre, the biography, coming from a consolidated literary tradition at the service of bourgeois glorification, back in the 19th century, can innovate and make more attractive a narrative whose vital substance is the weight of ideas. A well-told film with a convincing August Diehl as the young Marx, it is a story not to be missed by those who want to know how a key text of contemporary political thought was forged, which is like saying how the Communist Manifesto was forged.
Haitian Raoul Peck was forced to emigrate with his family to the Congo after the Duvalier dictatorship threatened them with death. He was closely linked to African reality and studied filmmaking in Berlin. His films, such as Lumumba and I’m Not Your Negro, the latter a documentary about racism in the United States that was nominated for last year’s Oscar, highlights the political and social concerns of this filmmaker. Director Peck – and the film makes this very clear – is not interested in wax figures. Hence we will see a passionate young Marx, a troublemaker, a drunkard at times, a Marx with defects, as his wife reproaches him, at times self-sufficient, a person of flesh and blood. Peck’s Marx is also overflowing with a youthful energy channeled under the imperative that happiness, the meaning of life, becomes concrete for him in an act of resistance and constant struggle against social injustice.
A film for any kind of audience, but one that scholars of history and Marxism will enjoy very much as they witness the dialectical battles established between the two young revolutionaries and other figures who understood only part of what the struggle for a new world should be. Thus we will see a gallery of these characters in this story that, faithful to reality, dedicates a special treatment to the women who influenced the life of Marx and Engels, and not only in the love aspect, but also contributing ideas.
Excellent moments are recreated, such as when the young people are introduced and the director conceives the scene as a train wreck, with an ironic Marx reproaching his great friend for the golden buttons he wore on his jacket the day they first met. From the beginning, both face their egos, then show mutual admiration, and finally end up in a night party. From then on they will fight together against censorship and police raids, riots and riots that will augur the strengthening of the workers’ movement, which until then had been disorganized in no small measure.
Although the film takes fictional licenses as is usual in any biography, historically it is impeccable. At the same tim, nourishing new points of view concerning this present of ours, contaminated by many of the contradictions then predominant and perfectly explained in Das Kapital, the film is a masterpiece for then and now. It’s not for pleasure that director Raoul Peck concludes his film with a dynamic editing that alludes to the perennial validity of Marxism. First, we’ll see the historic photo of Mary and Frederick, Jenny and Karl Marx and No Direction Home, played by Bob Dylan, a collage of photos and images that remind us of what the world has been like over the last 60 or 70 years. It’s a way of telling us that the two young friends are still as relevant as when they wrote 170 years ago that a specter was haunting the world.