Punishment Park

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Overview

While Peter Watkins' films of the 1960s reflected the political turmoil and tumult of that decade, 1971's Punishment Park offered a disturbing look at the backlash against leftist activism which emerged in the wake of such events as the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago and the shootings at Kent State University. Set at some unspecified point in the near future, Punishment Park was inspired by a provision of the 1950 McCarran Internal Security Act, which gives the President of the United States the right to ...
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Overview

While Peter Watkins' films of the 1960s reflected the political turmoil and tumult of that decade, 1971's Punishment Park offered a disturbing look at the backlash against leftist activism which emerged in the wake of such events as the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago and the shootings at Kent State University. Set at some unspecified point in the near future, Punishment Park was inspired by a provision of the 1950 McCarran Internal Security Act, which gives the President of the United States the right to suspend the traditional judicial system in favor of tribunals to deal with people believed to be "a risk to internal security" in the event of what the Chief Executive deems a national emergency. As the McCarran Act also enabled political prisoners to be held in concentration camps rather than conventional penal facilities, Punishment Park follows a group of left-wing dissidents (Black Power activists, antiwar protesters, and a politically oriented folksinger, among others) as they're given a perfunctory hearing by a panel of military officers and ordinary citizens. They are then offered a choice: they can either serve long stays in prison (seven years is the shortest sentence mentioned), or spend 72 hours in Punishment Park, a section of the Southern California desert. The prisoners are to travel 53 miles on foot in three days, with only minimal provisions of water or food under 110-degree heat, while they are followed by National Guard troops who are permitted to shoot if provoked. If they can complete the hike in the allotted time, they'll be allowed to go free, though it soon becomes obvious that despite the fact the odds have been stacked against them, the prisoners are being dealt an unfair hand along the trail.
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Special Features

Specially-filmed 28 minute introduction by Peter Watkins; feature-length audio commentary by Dr. Joseph A. Gomez, Founding Director of Film Studies at North Carolina State University and author of the 1979 book "Peter Watkins"; "The Forgotten Faces" (1961), an 18-minute amateur film made by Peter Watkins in which the 1956 Hungarian revolution is recreated in the back streets of Canterbury; Optional English and French subtitles; Text essay by media critic Scott MacDonald on audience responses to Punishment Park; Original 1971 press kit; Peter Watkins filmography; 24-page booklet with a chapter on the film from Joseph Gomez's 1979 book "Peter Watkins"
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 11/22/2005
  • UPC: 881751200013
  • Original Release: 1971
  • Rating:

  • Source: Project X
  • Region Code: 1
  • Time: 1:28:00
  • Format: DVD

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Paul Alelyanes
Carmen Argenziano Jay Kaufman
Stan Armsted Charles Robbins
Harold Beaulieu
Jim Bohan Captain, Sheriff's Dept.
Kerry Cannon
Patrick Boland Defendant
Luke Johnson Luke Valerio
Tom Kemp Tribunal Marshal
Jack London
Katherine Quittner Nancy Smith
Harold Schneider Desert Pacifist
Scott Turner Janus Kohler
Peter Watkins Documentarist
Frederic Franklyn Prof. Daly
Gary Johnson Jim Reedman
Technical Credits
Peter Watkins Director, Editor, Screenwriter
Joan Churchill Cinematographer
David Hancock Art Director
Terry Hodel Editor
Susan Martin Producer
Paul Motian Score Composer, Editor
Peter Smokler Cinematographer
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Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Punishment Park
1. The McCarran Act [4:56]
2. The Tribunal [3:52]
3. The Course [10:32]
4. A Word About Violence [5:54]
5. Moral Code [5:32]
6. Killing a Policeman [6:40]
7. Temperature 101ยบ [7:42]
8. Nancy Jane Smith [8:20]
9. Break for Lunch [8:03]
10. The Truth in America [9:28]
11. Don't Shoot [8:04]
12. The Flag [8:23]
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Menu

Disc #1 -- Punishment Park
   Director's Intro
   Play Movie
   Chapters
   Subtitles
      English
      French
      Subtitles: Off
   Extras
      Feature Commentary by Joseph A. Gomez: On
      Feature Commentary by Joseph A. Gomez: Off
      "The Forgotton Faces" (Short)
         Subtitles: English
         Subtitles: French
         Subtitles: Off
      Text Essay by Scott MacDonald on Audience Repsonses to Punishment Park
      Original 1971 Press Kit
         About the Director
         Peter Watkins Discusses the Role of Punishment Park Within the Present Repression in Public Media
         About the Film
         The Way in Which the Film Was Made
         The Way in Which the Film Will Be Released
         Conclusion
      Peter Watkins Filmography
   Peter Watkins Collection
   DVD Credits
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Customer Reviews

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    Posted September 6, 2009

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