The Young Karl Marx Review - Engaging; Passionate; Funny; A Must See

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The Young Karl Marx, from Canel+ and The Orchard, presents the story of one of the world’s greatest minds of the late 19th Century and the struggle to rise above those who fought against his life altering opinions.

Co-written and directed by Raoul Peck The Young Karl Marx stars August Diehl, Stefan Konarske, Vicky Krieps, Hannah Steele, Olivier Gourmet, Alexander Scheer, Michael Brandner, Niels-Bruno Schmidt, Ivan Frank, Peter Benedict, Marie Meinzenbach, Aran Bertetto and Annabelle Lewiston. The Young Karl Marx was also co-written by Pascal Bonitzer.

The film begins with villages, silently, gathering dead wood from the forest. Throughout the scenes, the voice over and subtitles explains France had been struggling through a famine for two years, and the those hoping to sneak away with a few twigs were accused of stealing the dead wood on the ground.

The ground begins to tremble and the the screen is filled with the a militia of soldiers, galloping horses, thunderous footsteps of descending horrors reverberates and the disenfranchised, running were simple targets for the charging soldiers swinging mallets.

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The film cuts to Manchester, England where Friedrich Engels, played by Stefan Konarske, his father, Herr Engels, played by Peter Benedict, were notified of a problem which shut down production at his plant. Lecturing the Irish women who were in charge of the looms, he told them he would deduct the cost or repairs form their check, when a voice of resistance, Mary Burns, played by Hannah Steele, challenged him. She continues to challenge him in front of the entire staff, foremen and other workers, until he finally fires her. Her sister, Lizzy, played by Annabelle Lewiston, follows her.

They are both followed by Friedrich who is caught up in the beauty of Mary and his desire to further his ideas.

Back in France, Karl Marx, played by August Diehl, is debating with the thought provoking leaders the value of the journal they are sweating to have printed. He continues to incite them as he explains the vagueness of the words. As the French soldiers have surrounded the studio and were intent on arresting the lot as rebel-rousers and inciting change, he explains, “a few night in jail would do us all good."

With that he opened the door and the soldiers took him. On his way to the jail his comrade whispered about a new paper, in a new city, Paris.

Awakened by a baby, and a women running to the baby, we meet Jenny von Westphalen-Marx, played by Vicky Krieps, an aristocrat who fell for the thinker and against all conventional wisdom, broke off her engagement with a member of bourgeoisie and ran off with Karl Marx. So here they are today, broke, in love, with a family and Karl’s writing no matter how challenging, and clearly he had one of the most gifted minds in the modern new era, don’t feed the babies.

As Karl, at 26, is always out introducing his ideas on the human condition to the local accepted thinkers of the day, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, played by Olivier Gourmet, Wilhelm Weitling, played by Alexander Scheer, Karl Grun, played by Niels Bruno Schmidt, he would often meet in men's clubs. It was during one of these outings he met Friedrich Engels. It is 1844 Paris.

The two are kindred souls from the start. A few more rounds and they find they have similar ideas and thought on the direction of society; and a few more rounds after that they decide they are going to write a book together on an aspect of society, the working class, child labor, something that allows them to explain and present their ideas as two thinkers who can effect society.

The next morning as each nurse a hangover, it is Jenny who asks about the title of this masterpiece that the two had agreed to write in the midst of a drunken haze. It is she who suggests a "Critique on the Critical Condition."

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Together, between censorship and the police's repression, riots and political upheavals, they will lead the labor movement during its development into a modern era.

The Young Karl Marx is a masterpiece with enough balance between the capers of two men desperate to provoke or invoke change and the society that is holding on, resisting change as it struggles against the struggles and plight of the working class.

It is charming as it centers on the time when the two were hungry to experience the destiny they knew belonged to them. When they were hungry to love; when the passions they felt exploded into every area of life spilling over, emboldening them.

The Young Karl Marx explores the greatness of men who were still finding their voices in a world begging for change and yet desperately opposed at the same time.

An engaging, charming and humorous film on the youth of a man who became the pillar of Marxism, a voice of class struggle, and the author of The Communist Manifesto. His friendship with Engels lasted throughout his life and the two are responsible for enacting change.

They were thinkers, who saw and were appalled at the human condition of members of society and worked for change. And they were so close to getting it right.

The Young Karl Marx is a great film; engaging, humorous, passionate, genuine. It is a must see.

The Young Karl Marx opens February 23, 2018. In German and French with English subtitles.


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