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(en) France, Alternative Libertaire AL Novembre - Film: " Young Karl Marx ": for or against ? (fr, it, pt) [machine translation]
Tue, 5 Dec 2017 11:37:04 +0200
The new film by Raoul Peck tells the beginnings of the intellectual journey of the author
of Capital, from 1844. That a work accessible to all looks at a figure of the labor
movement is welcome, but it manages to to restore the revolutionary ideals ? ---- " An
accessible film " ---- This mainstream film, directed by Raoul Peck, is undoubtedly a
success if one sticks to the objectives it sets. ---- The characters are credible,
starting with Karl Marx himself. The sets easily transport us in the XIX th century: it is
a great success of the film. ---- Karl Marx, in 1844, is, at just 26 years old, in a
pivotal moment of his life. He is going to meet Friedrich Engels (their first meeting is
for the least comical) which will change him deeply. ---- Relations with Proudhon are
interesting to follow, until the coup and the transformation of the " League of the
righteous " into " League of Communists ".
Marx, his wife Jenny and their children lead a very modest life, not to say miserable, far
from the image of " bourgeois " who sticks to Marx.
The main characters never wonder if they will give up or not, but, despite the
vicissitudes, how they will manage to continue their militant activity.
Of course, we regret that this or that aspect of the main characters is not addressed.
Indeed, we could talk about the relationship to women that Marx and Engels had, of their
productivism. And why not mention the anti-Semitism of Proudhon, another recurring
However, this is not the object of the film, which does not, however, draw an idyllic
portrait of the characters either. And it is always easy to judge the characters who lived
200 years before us, in a society that was quite different and therefore bears the defects
of his time.
The film seems to reach the point, recalling that Marx endowed the working class with
solid ideas through its scientific socialism at a time when abstract feelings and dreamy
idealistic dreamers dominated.
It reminds us of the importance of linking a strong theory to political activism, and of
never giving up. Far from addressing extremist leftists and their incessant internal
debates, the film is accessible, made to be seen by the greatest number. And it's healthy.
Nico (AL Moselle)
" Living Intellectuals "
Of course, we welcome a mainstream film, which succeeds in bringing to life the desire for
social revolution, still fossilized in images of one-party dictatorships. What could Marx
and Engels do to embody this desire and become symbols of the revolution ? On this point,
we can leave the film dissatisfied.
The activist activity of Marx, Engels, and their comrades Proudhon or even Bakunin is
reduced to writing. Not a strike, revolt or insurrection, nor daily activism ; but
articles, books or a manifesto. This corresponds in part to the reality of the duo's
activity, but not to that of their contemporaries, nor of ours. The public will see more
salon intellectuals than revolutionary militants, and the desire for revolution, which we
can guess in the characters on the screen, does not affect us.
We do not see organizational work either: reunions, parties or congresses are already
ready, our two friends have only to speak and thereby the power (as when the League of the
righteous becomes League of Communists). The working masses, yet actresses of the
revolution, remain voiceless, except to applaud or whistle the leaders, as in bourgeois
Realism certainly, but must we be moved by such a political practice ? Are the
revolutionaries these men who take the direction of an organization they have not built,
because they are persuaded to be intellectually superior and to be right, even if they
despise their comrades who have become adversaries ? If the ambition of a scientific
socialism as a weapon at the disposal of the oppressed is commendable, to make it an
instrument of power to secure the political leadership is at least perverse, and announces
the authoritarian " communist " history , to which our current will never cease to
oppose. The film would have gained to suggest in a less heroic way these totalitarian
Of course, these criticisms are more political than aesthetic. But is a beautiful
political film possible without a critical dimension that prevents it from being
caricatural ? If we appreciate the political debate that does not fail to spark the film,
we would have liked to see it on the screen.
Vincent (AL Gironde)
Raoul Peck, The Young Karl Marx, 1h58.
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