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VENICE 2019 Competition

Pietro Marcello • Director of Martin Eden

“I tried to create fiction by drawing from all available resources, while maintaining a part of unpredictability”


- VENICE 2019: Italian director Pietro Marcello is in competition with Martin Eden, inspired by Jack London’s famous 1908 novel

Pietro Marcello  • Director of Martin Eden
(© La Biennale di Venezia - foto ASAC)

We met with Italian director Pietro Marcello, in Competition at the 76th Venice International Film Festival with his film Martin Eden [+see also:
film review
interview: Pietro Marcello
film profile
, inspired by Jack London’s famous 1908 novel.

Cineuropa: Who is the Martin Eden of Pietro Marcello and of screenwriter Maurizio Braucci?
Pietro Marcello: Martin is a boy who becomes a man and redeems himself through culture. It’s a universal story. His story is that of so many of us. I read the novel twenty years ago, on the recommendation of Maurizio Braucci, then we decided to turn it into a film. Obviously, it’s a very liberal adaptation set in Naples, where we do not have the culture of the Anglo-Saxon navy. We read Martin Eden as a portrait that could anticipate the perversions and troubles of the 20th century. The relations between the individual and society, the role of mass culture, class struggle. In the film, the story of the anti-hero created by London opens with archive footage of anarchist Errico Malatesta then finds parallels in the lives and works of some Danish writers of the 20th century, from Vladimir Majakovskij to Stig Dagerman and Nora May French.

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You come from the documentary world, and you use a lot of archive footage in the film.
I tried to create fiction by drawing from all available resources, while maintaining a part of unpredictability that is dear to me. I love working with archive and I want to thank Alessia Petitto for the extraordinary material she found. For me, the editing is the stage of filmmaking that is the richest in adrenaline, the archive was the counterpoint to talk about History. In documentary, there is no script, but here, we started from 300 pages then gradually took some away. We change the setting and dialogue. But I’d like to continue making small documentaries, like I have always done.

One of the themes of the film is the rapport between the artist and the cultural industry.
Martin is a victim of his own success, from the moment he begins to get published, his symbolic ship sinks. It’s the story of Jack London like it is that of Michael Jackson or Fassbinder. Artists who lost touch with everyday life. His betrayal of the class to which he belongs makes him the victim of that system.

Is there a possible interpretation for young people?
In the society of narcissism, you can only do something through language and culture. With this film, we tried to be different, cinema is still young and, as Bresson said, it is better not to have models but to try and make something different by starting from those who have taught us something right.

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(Translated from Italian)

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