The Young Karl Marx – Film Review
Director: Raoul Peck
Writers: Pascal Bonitzer (screenplay), Raoul Peck (screenplay)
Stars: August Diehl, Stefan Konarske, Vicky Krieps
Marx (August Diehl) is a young man who, when the film begins, has already found the love of his life Jenny (Vicky Krieps who is seen in a very different role to that she played in Phantom Thread) and is working for a small radical newspaper “Rheinsche Zeitung” in Cologne. She comes from a well- heeled background.She provides domestic certainty in his life albeit, after a while, with the assistance of her own long standing nanny. But the newspaper falls foul of the German authorities and Marx flees with Jenny to Paris. Meanwhile, in Manchester the young Friedrich Engels (Stefan Konarske) is working grudgingly for his father in the cotton spinning mill his father owns “Ermen and Engels”. Young Engels had already met Marx as he too had contributed to the Rheinische Zeitung. They were a pair of young lads with radical social thoughts but were not adverse to a night on the town. The film depicts a scene in the mill where Engels meets a feisty young Irish girl Mary Burns, who will in time become his life long partner. The Marx’s live a peripatetic life as subversives and they flee Paris, then arrive in Brussels, Ostend and London. The film is littered with small meetings attended by what would now be called activists at which the likes of Proudhon propound their radical views but Marx is primus inter pares in this society.
The entire is beautifully shot in contemporary costume. Peck portrays Marx as a family man with this drive to explain how capitalism worked to the disadvantage of the many and to the advantage of the few who possessed capital. It is an engaging glimpse of the early life of Karl Marx, but that is about it. It ends before he bestrides Europe as a radical left wing thinker along with Engels.