Jack London was one of the most important and influential American novelists of his generation. His writings embodied the thirst for adventure which epitomised the era but also were a product of his radical political opinions. Much of his work reflected his socialist leanings, most notably in The Iron Heel and Martin Eden. The latter has been turned into an epic new film by Pietro Marcello. Who transplants the action from Oakland to Naples.
Whilst Martin Eden (Luca Marinelli) might be poor and uneducated, he has a zest for life which brings his to the attention of Elina Orsini (Jessica Cressy), the daughter of a wealthy family. In order to win her love, Martin decides to throw himself into literature. After absorbing as many books as possible, the lovestruck Neapolitan vows to become a writer; becoming absorbed by this passion.
Martin Eden is a beautifully realised period drama. Pietro Marcello’s film is full of life. Marinelli is superb. He throws himself into the role and is easily the best reason to watch. However, the political statements within are a little under-cooked. Indeed, Martin seems to lose his way at the precise moment the film begins to unravel. The second half feels much less focused. Still, Martin Eden is worth your time for a striking lead performance.
Martin Eden screens again at London Film Festival on 11 & 12 October.