Debates Forum

Debates Forum

  1. Joined
    15 Oct '06
    03 Feb '18 18:371 edit
    The Peter Watkins film. It's as topical today -if not more- as it was when released in May 2000. All the more remarkable for the time period it ostensibly covers.

    ''La Commune (Paris, 1871)'' extends those documentary techniques, imagining a 19th-century Paris equipped with television (although black-and-white). Most of the film is reported by a pair of eagerly partisan anchors on Commune TV. The opposing viewpoint, that of the bourgeois government that fled to the safe suburban haven of Versailles, is presented by a mustachioed fop who is the host of the news on Versailles TV.

    ''La Commune'' was shot in 1999 entirely in an abandoned factory in Montreuil, a Paris suburb, dressed to suggest the streets of the working-class 11th Arrondissement and populated by some 220 amateur and professional actors. Mr. Watkins involved his cast in doing their own research on the characters, actual or composite, they would be playing. The performers then had to divide into groups representing the conflicting factions in the drama: members of the National Guard, who deserted the government to support the Commune; the neighborhood politicians, who rose to prominence as the Commune became more centralized and authoritarian; the bourgeoisie (curiously, most represented by angry, umbrella-wielding women), who opposed the Commune; and the oppressed populace of seamstresses, laundresses and artisans, the Commune's most passionate participants.

    Bringing these figures into largely improvised conflict, Mr. Watkins creates long, minimally edited sequences in which great issues of social justice and radical reform are debated in luxuriant detail. He also lets his performers step out of character and comment on their own roles, their comfort level in playing the personalities they have adopted and how they see the issues of ''La Commune'' reflected in contemporary French politics.

    Anyone see it? What was your take on it?