Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.
Culture

Were Marx And Engels The Original Odd Couple?

We all know Karl Marx as the bushy beard, as “Das Kapital,” as the “ism,” as “The Communist Manifesto…” But, thanks to a new film, we’ll soon get to know Karl Marx the man, or, at least, a hilariously romantic version of him. “The Young Karl Marx” is the newest film by Raoul Peck, who recently directed “I Am Not Your Negro” about James Baldwin (another influential and radical thinker).

The film, which stars August Diehl as Marx (you may remember Diehl as the S.S. officer with an ear for accents in Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds”) and Stefan Konarske as Friedrich Engels. It’s a classic odd couple scenario – the young, destitute, fire-brand Marx and the dejected, wealthy, bourgeois Engels who team up to take down global capitalism (that’s a summer blockbuster if I’ve ever seen one).

According to the synopsis, the events of the film take place in Paris, London, and Brussels in the mid 1800’s, revolving around the budding partnership between Engels and Marx. If the trailer is any indication, the two spend their time fawning over Marx’s genius, yelling at capitalists (“You all are paid to work, not sleep!” a factory owner yells in the beginning of the trailer), empowering the proletariat, and running from the police. The hours spent in the library, writing and researching, seem to be missing (of course, the agonizing tedium of writing is usually missing from films like this one).

Leaving aside the irony of premiering a film about Karl Marx at the star studded Berlinale, “The Young Marx” does look like a fun, if not a bit silly, film – and Diehl’s performance as Marx appears to be exciting (though he is certainly too pretty to play Marx, young or old).

As of now, there is no indication when/if the film will make its way to the United States, but either way, I can already see the promotion posters: “This summer, there’s a new specter haunting Europe: The Young Karl Marx.”

Jake Romm is a Contributing Editor for The Forward. Contact him at [email protected] or on Twitter, @JakeRomm

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.