Martin Eden
Film On Demand

Martin Eden

November 05 - 11, 2020

This event occurred as part of the 20/21 Hop Film season. This is an archived view.

A sailor with literary aspirations undergoes a political awakening in this audacious and thrilling adaptation of the Jack London novel.

20/21 Hop Film

"The opening moments of Martin Eden feature a trove of documentary images filmed in 1921, in the Italian port city of Savona: a throng of workers waving flags at a rally, a locomotive rumbling toward its destination. These fleeting glimpses of a young, still-industrializing century have been folded into a fictional story that appears to be taking place sometime later, judging by some of the inventions we see: a magnetic tape recorder, an adjustable desk lamp, a television set. But it's the conceit of this vibrant and passionate film, directed with mad brio by Pietro Marcello, that no meaningful difference between past and present or between fiction and nonfiction, really exists. It's as if the whole 20th century had been distilled, or scrambled, into an eternal, mercurial now. 

The novel was already its own semi-autobiographical hall of mirrors, refracting London's rise-and-fall journey through that of a restless, misguided and intensely captivating alter ego. This latest of many movie adaptations attempts an even bolder transformation: luminously shot (by Francesco Di Giacomo and Alessandro Abate) on 16-millimeter film, it's both a richly textured bildungsroman and a rambling cultural, political and historical panorama." —LA Times

Martin (played by the marvelously committed Luca Marinelli) is a self-taught proletarian with artistic aspirations who dreams of becoming a writer to rise above his station and marry a wealthy, young university student (Jessica Cressy). The dissatisfactions of working-class drudgery and ambivalence toward bourgeois success lead to political awakening and destructive anxiety in this enveloping, superbly mounted rags-to-riches story. D: Pietro Marcello, Italy, subtitled, 2020, 2h9m

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“The true miracle of this film is how Marcello translates both London’s scabrous tone and his lush, character-revealing prose into pure cinema.”

The New York Times
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