Miss Marx

written and dir. by Susanna Nicchiarelli

Jenny Julia Eleanor Marx was born in London on January 15, 1855, the sixth child and fourth daughter of Karl Marx and Jenny von Westphalen. Fluent in several languages, she was a prodigy who edited her father’s work, campaigned for the eight-hour working day, helped establish International May Day and translated Ibsen and Flaubert. Nicchiarelli’s work opens in 1883. Eleanor Marx, known to her family as Tussy, eulogizes her father (“He died in harness, his intellect untouched”) at her parents’ shared grave in London. Eleanor soon meets playwright Edward Aveling at a lecture he is delivering on the poet Percy Shelley (she and Aveling will later co-author a pamphlet on the subject, Shelley’s Socialism, 1888). Eleanor Marx has come down in history as a socialist fighter, a thoroughgoing internationalist and, concretely, a significant and determined participant in the development of “New unionism” in Britain, the organization of highly exploited, unskilled workers (dockers, seamen, gas workers, general laborers and others). She was in the thick of the explosive class battles that erupted in the country from the late 1880s. The film covers certain aspects of Eleanor’s political and public activity, but it leans heavily toward an interest in her emotional life.

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