The Young Karl Marx (French: Le jeune Karl Marx; German: Der junge Karl Marx) is a 2017 historical drama film about Karl Marx, directed by Haitian filmmaker and political activist Raoul Peck, co-written by Peck and Pascal Bonitzer, and starring August Diehl. It had its world premiere at the 67th Berlin International Film Festival on 12 February 2017.
While in his 20s, Karl Marx struggles to establish himself as a writer of political and sociological importance. He meets Friedrich Engels, a young man whose wealthy father owns factories. Engels' belief that the workers there and elsewhere, including children, are mistreated and underpaid matures. The men begin to work together to create a new political movement to reform and unite the impoverished workers. Eventually, the two stage a coup during a meeting of the League of the Just and create the Communist League in its place. The film ends with Marx and Engels writing and publishing their objectives as The Communist Manifesto.
On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 60% based on 47 reviews, and an average rating of 6/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "The Young Karl Marx makes a valiant attempt to make the philosophical cinematic, but lacks sufficient depth to tackle its complex themes." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 63 out of 100, based on 13 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
The Guardian's review by Peter Bradshaw gave the film four out of five stars and stated, "It shouldn't work, but it does, due to the intelligence of the acting and the stamina and concentration of the writing and directing." In a review for Inside Higher Ed, Scott McLemee described the film as "a nuanced and surprisingly accurate portrait of the revolutionary as a young man", noting its faithfulness to the historical record. Writing for the New Statesman, Suzanne Moore described the film as "sparky, brave and totally absorbing" and "in many ways a conventional biopic, lifted by its performances, and by its insistence that ideas matter". A.O. Scott of the New York Times regarded it as being "both intellectually serious and engagingly free-spirited."
European versions exist, which lack English subtitles for extensive dialogues in German or French. There is also a US edition with subtitles for foreign languages, but it will not play on Europe-Only DVD players.