Five Cents (at home): Martin Eden


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“Martin Eden” opens with archival footage on May 1, 1920, in one of the Italian cities, and closes with an elderly man walking on the shores of the South Italian Sea, announcing the declaration of war. For those who have turned to a writer with a semi-autobiographical novel by Jack London from a sailor to whom this 2019 film has been adapted, these scenes are awe-inspiring. Director and writer Pietro Marcello and his co-author Mauricio Braucci moved the scene from California (in his 1909 London novel) to southern Italy (Naples) and the Mediterranean. They also shifted the time frame from the turn of the last century in London to the 1920s-1940s, which Twenty years, 20 years of fascist rule. (Mussolini’s march in Rome was in October 1922, and Italy declared war on Britain and France in June 1940.)

Although the background is fascist, but it is not known. The focus of the film is first and foremost on the struggle of a charming, charismatic and beautiful sailor (Luca Marinelli) who is poor in education, class and family, to rise above his station. Eden is summoned to the home of wealthy Orsini (a famous family of democratic nobility for centuries) after rescuing his frail son from being beaten in a dock. Inside their palace villa, he is introduced to an unfamiliar world and meets the beautiful, highly-skilled Orsini girl, who becomes his favorite object and museum. “I want to talk like you do, think like you do,” she says to the talented but naive and socially compatible Elena (Jessica Cressy). (The film preserves the American name of Martin Eden.)

Eden’s quest for self-study and becoming a writer is a typical ragged story of wealth, in which it is sensitively narrated and the reference to Eliza Doolittle’s visit is inserted. The film has its own very melodramatic scenes, such as when the sick Aden (who worked too hard) to do the manual labor himself, to earn a few liras) is a foster family consisting of a mother named Maria ( Carmen Pommella) and her two children. When they hit the peak of his fever, he realizes that he has sold his first story. But for the most part, this story is interesting, and Marinelli is magnetic and convincing to the big role that the film depends on.

The main success story only takes up the first hour, as there are challenges with success. Reading Aden with the political theory of the English sociologist Herbert Spencer himself, who proved social Darwinism in 1886 great job (imagine London reading it). At the same time, he was introduced to socialism by a noble friend who, under Orsini, Russ Brissenden (Carlo Cecchi, a well-known Italian artist in the art troupe, who played a key role in the exclusive death of “Neapolitan Mathematician”). [1992]). “Briss” takes Aden to meetings of the striking workers and to secret places where socialist pamphlets are written and distributed. Aden struggles with the contradiction between his involvement in bourgeois individualism — a position that corresponds to his desire to be a writer, his individuality to be the most engaged — and his appreciation of socialism and working-class society.

For Aden, more troubling than conflicting political theories is the loss of himself because of his sudden popularity (perhaps London is more here). He cannot reconcile the life of a wealthy celebrity who has become, with his roots in the working class. “It’s not Martin Eden,” he tells the audience, who had gathered to listen to his speech and read, “you invented me.”

Martin Eden’s themes play well in 2020: income inequality, the “new golden age”, the fame of destroying one’s identity (even today through social media), the desire for selfishness (more appropriate for the US), the need for social change (more European), the difficulty of melting their roots with a new social status. At the same time that Aden wants to be Elena, she sees that her love for him depends on her success as a writer and the acquisition of elite manners. Although Elena is Martin’s muse, she also wants to shape him for the world of celebrities.

“Martin Eden” is a standard filmmaker – a familiar legend told chronologically – with some deviations from the norm, including emergency adjustment changes. It was filmed in a Super 16mm, with a lot of sudden cuts and some short scenes, mostly historical, nothing less than the back. Several photos of the average drowning 19minds-Clipper’s century ship, beyond the scope of the story, (suspiciously very obviously) serves as a metaphor for the lost identity of Aden as a sailor. A brief flash of a home-made color film apparently shows Aden and his sister dancing as children – which is impossible, given that in the 1920s there were no home-made color film and color film cameras. There is another scene of Elena leaving Aden in 1940 or more and entering Volvo in the 1960s. It is unlikely that these are just continuing errors. Maybe Marcello would show a moment to Aden’s mind (he was thinking with the color of dancing with his sister). Or he invites viewers to project class inequality and other topics in the post-1940s. While these few time-consuming scenes are a cause for concern, the film as a whole is kept together and rejected when edited at any time. Similarly, the search for a story with a universal meaning of Marcello requires that the historical scene of the film – the Mussolini years – take place.

Early on, Eden introduced himself to Elena as “brave”. The same can be said for Marcello, whose courage created both a traditional and unconventional film, which won the Golden Lion at the 2019 Venice Film Festival and four major awards, including Best Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay. and won the producer, in 2020, David di Donatello, the Italian Oscar winner. The London character is also mentioned in Tom Waits’ 1974 musical work in front of the sailors “Shearer Sticks to Me”: “And I know that Martin Eden / Gonna be proud of me / And many before me / Who called them to the sea . “


Consciousness: 2019 (US 2020 release)

Stars: 3.5 (out of 4 stars)

Director: Pietro Marcello

Participation: Luca Marinelli, Jessica Cressy, Carlo Checky, Carmen Pommella

Country: Italy, France, Germany

Languages: Italian, Neapolitan, French; in English

Other awards: The Golden Lion (Best Film), Venice Film Festival 2019; Best Film, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Producer, David di Donatello 2020; another winner, up to date more than 25 nominations.

Working hours: 129 minutes

Availability: Stream through your local theater through Cinema Mark, here; for future access, see JustWatch here.


See all reviews of Five St Cine by 2 Film Critics


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