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Loosely based on the 1909 novel, Martin Eden is a stunning film about the hollow success of individualism. The plot points remain the same: Eden, a self-taught sailor, wants to win the heart of the wealthy Elena Orsini. To do this, he strives to break into the upper class with his writing. However, in this film, writer-director Pietro Marcello adds another dimension to the anti-individualist story: he transports Eden from his original California setting to Naples—allowing for views of different cultures, languages, and classes. By intercutting between old film stock and lingering close-ups, Marcello draws from his documentary background to masterfully evokes the process of remembering. And in refusing to define the time period, Marcello recognizes that Eden’s struggle is still ongoing today—and that his success is still hollow.
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