La Commune (Paris 1871)

( 2 )

Overview

Noted filmmaker and media critic Peter Watkins directs this mammoth six-hour-long look at the legendary Paris Commune of 1871. Following the humiliating defeat of France in the Franco-Prussian War, the reign of Napoleon III collapsed in the resulting public foment. While a new regime headed under the Government of National Defense tried to shore up power, a band of commoners took the reigns of power for themselves and created the Paris Commune, a government defiantly separate from the state operating under a sort...
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Overview

Noted filmmaker and media critic Peter Watkins directs this mammoth six-hour-long look at the legendary Paris Commune of 1871. Following the humiliating defeat of France in the Franco-Prussian War, the reign of Napoleon III collapsed in the resulting public foment. While a new regime headed under the Government of National Defense tried to shore up power, a band of commoners took the reigns of power for themselves and created the Paris Commune, a government defiantly separate from the state operating under a sort of proto-Marxist ethos. Inevitably, the Commune was brutally suppressed by French troops. Watkins' treatment of the event juxtaposes the present with the past -- modern day CNN-style reporting with historical fact. This film was screened at the 2001 Toronto Film Festival.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 1/5/2010
  • UPC: 854565001213
  • Original Release: 2001
  • Source: Icarus Films
  • Presentation: Special Edition / B&W
  • Language: Français
  • Time: 7:01:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 38,169

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Eliane Annie Adalto Interviewee
Bernard Bombeau Interviewee
Pierre Barbieux Interviewee
Technical Credits
Peter Watkins Director, Editor, Screenwriter
Agathe Bluysen Editor, Screenwriter
Paul Saadoun Producer
Odd Geir Sæther Cinematographer
Patrick Watkins Editor
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Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Commune
1. Opening Titles [1:22]
2. Presentation [8:49]
3. After the Siege of Paris [5:26]
4. The National Guard [10:22]
5. Defending the Cannons [12:56]
6. The "Communal" Television [13:16]
7. The Priest's Sermon [8:46]
8. A Secular School [12:12]
9. March 28th, 1871/La Marseillaise [10:06]
10. Thier's Army [3:57]
11. Secret Deliberations [5:30]
12. Separation of Church and State [7:07]
13. First Attacks of the Versailles Army [11:58]
14. The Cruelty of the Versailles Army [9:28]
15. The Women Want to Organize [12:05]
16. The Strategy of Thiers' Army [9:34]
17. April 11, 1871/The Commune In Danger [8:51]
Disc #2 -- Commune (Paris 1871)
1. Opening Titles [1:31]
2. The Women Want to Get Involved [8:43]
3. Creation of the Cooperatives [11:50]
4. The Women's Union [14:54]
5. Today and the Commune [7:23]
6. The Undocumented Workers [10:23]
7. People Must Change [7:35]
8. The Reporter of TV Versailles [4:48]
9. The Public Safety Committee [16:42]
10. The First Statement [9:43]
11. The Situation is Serious [12:55]
12. Frankel and Wages [12:14]
13. May 21 st: The Bloody Week [9:09]
14. The Barricades [6:18]
15. The Violence [7:37]
16. The Commune and "Our Barricades" [10:05]
17. The Repression: 30,000 Deaths [8:49]
18. The Shame [20:39]
Disc #3 -- Commune
1. Going Against the System [7:31]
2. Standing Up For Your Vision [9:20]
3. The Universal Clock [5:41]
4. Social Policy [6:47]
5. Meaning of Commitment [11:42]
6. Bleeding Eyes [7:12]
7. Good Will Towards Others [8:33]
8. Grand Utopia [10:10]
9. Repression of Cinema [7:11]
10. Credits [2:10]
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Menu

Disc #1 -- Commune
   Start Film
   Chapters
   First Run Icarus Films
   First Run Features
Disc #2 -- Commune (Paris 1871)
   Start Film
   Chapters
   First Run Icarus Films
   First Run Features
Disc #3 -- Commune
   Play Documentary Feature: The Universal Clock: The Resistance of Peter Watkins
   Chapters
   Peter Watkins Biography
   Teaching Guide
   Trailer Gallery
      War Photographer
      The Internationale
      The Take
      49 Up
   First Run Icarus Films
   First Run Features
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Customer Reviews

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( 2 )
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  • Posted October 1, 2010

    MUST-SEE BRILLIANCE

    The Paris Commune -- a citizens' revolt against a royalist government, the organizing of that revolt, and the crushing of it by government forces, all in the course of three spring months in 1871.

    Peter Watkins' La Commune is unlike any other political film I've seen. Never before have I felt so personally challenged to think acutely through my beliefs, to measure my own action against my ideology.

    Watkins achieves this effect via an astonishing conceptual move which greatly expands the potential for the art of political film. Assembling a group of 200 non-professional actors, he asked them to research their roles in the great insurrection, and to so understand the history of their characters as to be able to speak for them in interviews, in modern language, perhaps, but accurately, and with passion. In the course of making the film, these 200 people had to build their own commune, to establish decision-making groups around their work, and the agenda of the project itself.

    What we see is startlingly unrealistic. We are shown around the "studio" by a pair of commentators from "Commune TV", dressed, as is everyone, in nineteenth century garb, but utilizing hand-held mikes for their reporting. Written commentary flows throughout the film, describing historical events in great detail; the viewer comes out well instructed as to actual history, with frequent cuts to contrasting reports from effete anchors on National TV. Thus, La Commune is also about the media: some news for communards, different news for the haute bourgeoisie. Commune TV itself is also critiqued, with one reporter wanting to self-censor to better serve the struggle, and the other arguing for objectivity.

    In the course of scenes and interviews, we experience the difficulty of creating a just society in the midst of competing world views, strategies at odds, and varying levels of commitment -- and the threat of external force. Beyond the designated enemy, who else is the enemy? Does a revolution require a guillotine?

    Once the social/historical background is laid, the radical nature of the project emerges with increasing intensity, as Commune reporters start to intercut their interviews with different kinds of questions: Not What are you, the character, thinking?, but what are YOU, the actor, thinking about what's going on? What IS going on -- not for the character you are playing, but for YOU? Would YOU do today what your character did in history? Such questioning begins gently, so that the actors can be reflective about their answers, but finally it intrudes, overwhelms, fiercely, passionately, right at the peak of the barricades. In the feverish pitch of their historical action, almost hysterical actors are badgered, mercilessly, about their personal reality.

    During the final third of the film the momentum becomes so great and potentially exhausting that the audience is given occasional breaks as the cast comes together to discuss contemporary and personal politics (especially sexual) hidden behind the historical story. Yet, though the tempo slows, one's interest is further intensified by meeting the individuals involved, and comparing their experiences with one's own.

    The prime importance of this work is as an organizing tool. If political action in your community is plagued by low energy or lack of commitment, a viewing of La Commune should solve that type of problem, for no one can leave it at the same ethical or intellectual e

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 18, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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