How “The Young Karl Marx” drops the ball
I wanted to like “The Young Karl Marx”. After all the filmmaker, Raoul Peck, also recently directed the fantastic documentary about James Baldwin, “I Am Not Your Negro”. And I really loved that.
Here Peck certainly has his radical credentials lined up in the correct column but he lost the fire. The production values are Ivory Merchant all the way which don’t make up for the lack of background or context. Why is our young, poor son of a converted Jew so fervently trying to…..do what? Start a revolution? And his running buddy, Max Engels, only seems to be in it for the chance to rebel against Daddy’s dirty Industrial Revolution money and score some sweet Irish lass on the side.
So our revolutionary buddies managed to take over the League of the Just and kick out those fuddy duddies who thought that “All Men Are Brothers”. (C’mon!) The tip of the hat to the contributions of the women, Marx’s wife Jenny, and Engel’s main squeeze, the Irish spitfire organizer Mary Burns, felt perfunctory and ever so slightly smug.
As we live in a post-Soviet world, we know how this story has played out, but where did it really start? How has Peck managed to miss Marx’s driving motivation? A lot of money, time, love, and effort went into this weirdly empty examination of a time and series of events that went on to create incredible havoc, destruction, and transformation.
Can we get a little juice here?