Film screening News from Ideological Antiquity: Marx - Eisenstein - Capital

News from Ideological Antiquity © Kairos Film © Kairos Film


Goethe-Institut New York

“I have decided to adapt Capital based on Karl Marx’s scenario,” writes Sergei Eisenstein on October 12, 1927. Eisenstein, who revolutionized the language of film with Battleship Potemkin (1926), wants to ‘cinematize’ Marx’s book. The challenge emanating from such a work, Eisenstein believes, will radically transform the history of cinema. But how can one capture money, commodity, profit, and capital on screen, when what is at stake is not content but the abstract forms of all manner of things, human beings, and relationships? He has in mind the use of completely new forms, derived from James Joyce’s Ulysses: ‘faits divers’, ‘emotional bundles’, and series of ‘dialectical images’. Where ‘ancient cinema’ had a linear narrative, he wants to develop a ‘spherical dramaturgy’: “In ancient film, a plot was told from different perspectives. New cinema uses montage to develop one perspective from several plots.” For Eisenstein, this perspective was presumably capital itself. The project was never realized.

Eighty years later, Alexander Kluge launches an investigation into whether Capital can be adapted at all and commentates Eisenstein’s monumental scheme in filmic miniatures on Marx’s theory, which, to us, is as near and as far as antiquity. Conversations with Hans Magnus Enzensberger, Boris Groys, Oskar Negt, Werner SchröterPeter Sloterdijk, and many others, a built-in short film by Tom Tykwer, and an extra with Helge Schneider yield entirely different perspectives of Capital.

At the Goethe-Institut, Kluge’s News from Ideological Antiquity will be shown in full extension and, corresponding with the DVD edition, in three parts:

I. Marx and Eisenstein in the Same House
II. All Things are Enchanted People
III. Paradoxes of the Barter Society

With movies such as Yesterday Girl (1966) and his involvement in the collective film Germany in Autumn (1978), Alexander Kluge is one of the most important representatives of New German Cinema (Neuer Deutscher Film). At the German Film Awards in 2008, he received the honorary prize for outstanding contributions to German film. In 2017, together with Thomas Demand, Anna Viebrock and Udo Kittelmann, he presented the transmedia exhibition project The Boat is Leaking. The Captain Lied at the 57th Art Biennale in Venice.

Alexander Kluge
Nachrichten aus der ideologischen Antike: Marx – Eisenstein – Das Kapital
570 min, 3 DVDs
filmedition suhrkamp, Frankfurt am Main, 2008

News from Ideological Antiquity is part of Marx Now, a three-week series of events organized by the Goethe-Institut New York in partnership with Anthology Film Archives and the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research. For a full calendar of events, please click here.