La Commune (Paris, 1871)
DIRECTOR: PETER WATKINS
Paris is in flames, but you can’t tell as much from the calming bromides issued by the talking heads on Versailles TV, reporting live from March, 1871. Wildly anachronistic, radical in form and even more so in execution, Watkins’s sprawling film was made by gathering together 220 mostly amateur actors in the Armand Gatti workshop in Montreuil and having them impersonate workers in the Popincourt quarter of the 11th Arrondissement during the brief, turbulent, hopeful life of the Paris Commune, when the city was ruled by its common folk. “An intellectually challenging and tremendously moving experience… meant to evoke the unfamiliar sensation of revolutionary euphoria, or living (and dying) in a sacred time.”—J. Hoberman
Screening in the series Icarus Films at 40.