A New Docudrama Seeks to Uncover “The Young Karl Marx”

Written by | Entertainment, Screen

the young karl marx

Haitian director Raoul Peck follows up his Oscar®-nominated documentary about the brilliant writer and thinker James Baldwin, I Am Not Your Negro, with a feature about another remarkable ruminator, one whose work went on to change the world so deeply that that we’re still feeling aftershocks 150 years later: Communist Manifesto author Karl Marx. Naturally this means Peck must also represent the manifesto’s other author, Friedrich Engels — whose observations of the English working class were invaluable to their shared purpose. Indeed, it was this shared sense of purpose that was strong enough to unite the two young Germans despite their differences — Engels was born rich while Marx was desperately poor. Much of the film sees Marx (August Diehl – Inglorious Basterds) struggling to feed his intelligent wife (Vicky Krieps – Phantom Thread) and two babies, while Engles (Stefan Konarske – Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets) courts his Irish labor-agitating love (Hannah Steele – Black Mirror). What makes this film succeed, aside from terrific acting across the board, is the purity of its intellectual discourse. The plot moves well and at 118-minutes, the film never flags despite the fact that what drives the story is a series of strikingly well-written conversations — in German, French and sometimes English — that seem to be genuinely on the intellectual level of the genius characters participating in them. In short, this is a good film for those who can get into palpably thoughtful material — I Am Not Your Negro being another shining example of the same kind of film. THE WORD: There may be no greater example of how mere ideas can change the world than what these two brilliant, insolent and sharp-witted young men accomplished. COMING TO: Theaters

Last modified: March 28, 2019