Martin Eden (2020): Pietro Marcello’s Italian Adaptation of Jack London’s Novel

Martin Eden, Pietro Marcello’s historical romantic drama, is loosely based on Jack London’s 1909 novel of the same name.

Martin Eden
Martin Eden (2019 film).jpg

Film poster

It world premiered at the 76th Venice Film Fest, where Luca Marinelli won the Volpi Cup for Best Actor.

Jack London’s novel is transposed to Naples in Pietro Marcello’s distinctive vision that’s often visually compelling yet intellectually sprawling, weighed down by a devotion to theory.

Martin Eden
Venice Film Festival

Jack London is a writer who had lost his place in the pantheon of greats at home but remains a major early 20th-century author in Europe.

Though best known in the US for his wilderness tales, London’s key novel is Martin Eden, a semi-autobiographical work tracing his background from unschooled sailor to celebrated writer, encompassing his class anger, political musings and intense dissatisfaction with the life he created.

It was made into a forgotten 1942 film starring Glenn Ford and then adapted for TV in the 1970s by the Germans, the French and even the Soviets, all of whom undoubtedly tempered London’s entrenched libertarianism to suit their purposes.

Pietro Marcello (The Mouth of the Wolf) has made it the subject of his sprawling first fiction film, sticking close to the narrative while setting it in an undefinable 20th-century moment to make his own statements about the creative process, class hypocrisy and the disappointment of most political theories.

Luca Marinelli as Martin Eden
Carlo Cecchi as Russ Brissenden
Jessica Cressy as Elena Orsini
Vincenzo Nemolato as Nino
Marco Leonardi as Bernardo
Denise Sardisco as Margherita
Carmen Pommella as Maria
Autilia Ranieri as Giulia
Savino Paparella as Edmondo Peluso
Elisabetta Valgoi as Matilde Orsini
Pietro Ragusa [it] as Mr. Orsini
Giustiniano Alpi as Arturo Orsini
Dario Iubatti as Leone
Anna Patierno as Carmela
Vincenza Modica as Annina
Gaetano Bruno [it] as Judge Mattei
Maurizio Donadoni as Renato
Lana Vladi [it] as Rebecca
Chiara Francini as Nora
Aniello Arena [it] as François
Rinat Khismatouline as Corporal
Giordano Bruno Guerri as Alfio