Italy, France


Martin Eden Is a young seaman of about 25 years old with an intense passion for reading. One day, returning from a trip, he saves a young bourgeois man from a violent assault by some delinquents, thus earning his respect. To thank Martin for his help, the young man, Arturo Orsini, invites him to lunch at his home, where Martin meets his sister, Elena, for the first time and falls hopelessly in love with her, choosing her as the symbol of the knowledge to which he aspires. The luxury, culture and beauty of the Orsini's home enchant Martin who decides to free himself of the ignorance and the brutality of the slums where he grew up. There begins a frenzied period where Martin shuts himself away in the library and drinks in the knowledge from books of every kind, from poetry to physics. In his dreams, his destiny is now marked: he will become a famous writer and will marry the beautiful bourgeois woman. But studying is expensive and Martin has to take ship. When he returns after nearly a year, he begins to frequent Elena Orsini and her home. Their budding friendship is closely monitored by Elena's mother, Matilde, who does not approve of Martin, but hopes he might reawaken her daughter from a life excessively devoted to her studies. The time needed for study and his first attempts at writing take Martin to the brink of economic disaster. So he leaves the house of his sister Giulia and her husband Bernardo and goes to work with his friend Nino in a hotel laundry in Germany. The work is backbreaking and exhausting and he has no energy to pursue his ambitions for cultural elevation and a life of writing. He then decides to give in his notice and looks for lodgings in the countryside home of a widow with three children, Maria. There now begins a period of hard, tiring work fired by the hope of a future publication that seems never to arrive. Martin falls ill, writes, accumulates debts, but his love story with Elena grows. At Elena's graduation party, Martin meets the man who will become his mentor: Russ Brissenden, a fascinating intellectual who suffers from consumption and with whom he develops a close friendship, both intellectual and affectionate. Through Brissenden, Martin starts frequenting socialist circles, but he has personally undertaken profound studies of the theories of Spencer and is deeply fascinated. At a socialist meeting, where he is in the company of Brissenden, Martin is noticed by a journalist who publishes an article about him. The article proves fatal to Martin’s already strained relationship with Elena, who decides to end their affair. In desperation, Martin seeks comfort from his friend Brissenden who, however, is very ill and has decided to take his own life. At this point, Martin seeks to retrace his steps and slips back into the working-class life of the city where he resumes his friendships with Nino and Margherita, a young worker who is in love with him. When his writings are finally published with immense success, Martin’s heart is by now sick, and he is totally incapable of relating with anyone or of writing because of his absolute alienation from the world. Martin plunges into a depression that not even Elena's return can heal. Tortured by the dichotomy between the lure of the bourgeois ideals that sicken him and the cries of the proletariat who he feels he has betrayed, Martin decides to leave everything. He throws himself into the sea and drowns, consummating his tragedy in suicide.

Director's Biography

Born in Caserta in 1976, Pietro Marcello attended the Academy of Fine Arts, where he studied painting. In 2003 he made his first short films, CARTA and SCAMPIA.
The following year he completed IL CANTIERE, a documentary that won the 11th edition of Libero Bizzarri. In 2005 he made the documentary LA BARACCA, which won the public prize at Videopolis. That year he also collaborated as a volunteer with an NGO in Ivory Coast to create the documentary GRAND BASSAN.


Cast & Crew

Directed by: Pietro Marcello

Written by: Pietro Marcello, Maurizio Braucci

Produced by: Pietro Marcello, Beppe Caschetto, Thomas Ordonneau, Michael Weber, Viola Fügen

Cinematography: Francesco Di Giacomo, Alessandro Abate

Editing: Aline Hervé, Fabrizio Federico

Costume Design: Andrea Cavalletto

Make-Up & Hair: Dorothea Wiedermann, Daniela Tartari

Original Score: Marco Messina, Sacha Ricci, Paolo Marzocchi

Sound: Daniele De Angelis, Stefano Grosso, Michael Kaczmarek

Visual Effects: Luca Bellano

Casting: Stefania De Santis

Cast: Luca Marinelli (Martin Eden), Jessica Cressy (Elena Orsini), Carmen Pommella (Maria), Carlo Cecchi (Russ Brissenden), Denise Sardisco (Margherita), Vincenzo Nemolato (Nino)

Nominations and Awards

  • European Screenwriter 2020
  • European Actor 2020
  • European Director 2020
  • European Film 2020
  • Feature Film Selection 2020