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Revisiting Kluge's Fullfilment of Eisenstein's Marx Dream

Alexander Kluge's monumental nine-and-a-half-hour film Nachrichten aus der ideologischen Antike - Marx/Eisenstein/Das Kapital (News from Ideological Antiquity: Marx /Eisenstein/Capital, henceforth referred to as News) is a philosophical/historical essay that provides a meditation on the nature of cinema.

The film is divided into three parts: I. Marx and Eisenstein in the Same House (199 mins); II. All Things are Bewitched People (200 mins); III. Paradoxes of Exchange Society (183 mins). The film brings together several characteristic lines of Kluge's œuvre, such as his persistent historicism, and virtuoso use of loose, associative montage, delivering 570 minutes of sustained engagement with a vast material subsumed under the master signifier of capital. It joins a recent spate of works such as The Ister by David Barison and Daniel Ross (Australia, 2004) and Examined Life by Astor Taylor (Canada, 2008), overlapping with Jean-Luc Godard's Film Socialism (France, 2010), while resonating even more strongly with his Histoire(s) du cinéma (France 1988-98).

The film provides a forceful argument regarding the potential of cinema as an art form that is most fully realized when it is understood as operating between media. The film discusses Karl Marx's Das Kapital and Sergei Eisenstein's unrealised project of filming the book. The film is a combination of interviews, film excerpts and stills, newspaper clippings, photos, home movies, diagrams, snatches of popular music and operatic performances. The involved discussions cover topics such as industrialization, the soul of man, the hammer and sickle on the Soviet flag, Medea, and Marxism.

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