Springtime for Marx and Germany

I suppose it was inevitable, given the left’s re-enchantment with Communism, but I still found news of the 2017 film “The Young Karl Marx” jarring. The American Film Institute will be showing the movie as part of its “European Union Film Showcase” next month in Silver Spring, Maryland.

Here is how the AFI describes this German/French/Belgian co-production:

Following his documentary I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO, Raoul Peck takes on the story of the formative friendship of Karl Marx (August Diehl) and Friedrich Engels (Stefan Konarske). From Germany to France to England, the young thinkers pursue justice for the working class, who toiled under obscenely exploitative conditions to enrich their employers (including Engels’ father, a mill owner) during the peak of the Industrial Revolution.

Peck crafts an accessible biopic about these two larger-than-life thinkers, taking them down from their historicized pedestals and allowing viewers to relate to them as young strivers disrupting an inequitable status quo through the power of persuasion and organization.

Official selection, 2017 Berlin International Film Festival. DIR/SCR/PROD Raoul Peck; SCR Pascal Bonitzer; PROD Nicolas Blanc, Rémi Grellety, Robert Guédiguian. Germany/France/Belgium, 2017, color, 118 min. In German, English and French with English subtitles. NOT RATED

I had thought Marx was “taken down from his historicized pedestal” 25 years ago. The left is striving to restore him to that platform. This film strikes me as part of that effort via “an accessible biopic.”

It’s a fine strategy. Students can now claim close familiarity with the founder of Communism without undertaking the laborious — and if we’re talking about Das Kapital, nigh impossible — task of reading him.

Young Marx will be portrayed by August Diehl, a 42 year old German actor best known in America for playing SS-Sturmbannführer Dieter Hellstrom in Inglourious Basterds. Diehl may not be as good looking Gael García Bernal, who portrayed Che Guevera in “The Motorcycle Diaries,” but he’s a damn sight better looking than Karl Marx.

Che is chic. Maybe now Karl Marx will be too. T-shirts of him are already being sold.


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