Nachrichten Aus Der Ideologischen Antike – Marx/Eisenstein/Das Kapital (2010) (News From Ideological Antiquity – Marx/Eisenstein/Capital) – THE THEATRICAL VERSION
The theatrical cut of Alexander Kluge’s epic length video work News from Ideological Antiquity – Marx/Eisenstein/Capital (2008) could be considered as notes from notes from notes on Das Kapital. This inheritance of texts, across media and languages, is what informs the central discourse of Kluge’s 83-minute collage work. After the completion of October (1928), which he mostly edited partially-blind and under the influence, Eisenstein set out to adapt Karl Marx’s Das Kapital as filtered through James Joyce’s Ulysses. The project was, of course, not realized and this is precisely the fact from which Kluge’s launches his investigation as to whether the book can be adapted at all. Using archival footage, (seemingly endless amount of) on-screen text, reading sessions accompanied by piano scores, interviews with historians, agit-poetry by Bert Brecht based on The Communist Manifesto and even an overstaying, outsourced short film directed by Tom Tykwer, Kluge examines the possible ways in which the gargantuan socioeconomic text can be realized in popular art forms. Such an effort, as Kluge illustrates, becomes especially challenging in film since it would mean attempting to capture the abstract nature of capital in the concrete events and things around us. Kluge, it appears, likes to see this as an ever evolving process, driven by the development of technology (At least, unlike Eisenstein, Kluge doesn’t have to worry about film stock), in which he is but only a connecting link. (His film is, after all, far removed from the source: Marx-Engels-Eisenstein-Kluge). But there is a more fundamental question if one is to believe in such long-ranged projects: How much of Marx is still relevant today? Was Marx, like Kluge, a part of a longer chain, the beginning or the end of it? Kluge, like Godard, sums up the predicament in a poignant image: the debris of Karl Marx’s real tombstone in London being overshadowed by a lionizing token monument nearby.