La Commune (Paris, 1871)

La Commune (Paris, 1871)

Synopsis

“In March 1871 civil war rages in Paris. A journalist on Versailles TV issues a soothing, truncated report on the events that are tearing apart the French Republic, while a community access channel is set up by the insurgents. Inside a theater (the Armand Gatti workshop in Montreuil), some 220 actors, predominantly amateurs, impersonate the workers of the Popincourt quarter of the 11th Arrondissement and reenact the social and political debates that racked the Paris Commune. Despite the period costumes, the discussions are as often as not about contemporary problems – unemployment and racism – and many of the criticisms are aimed not at Versailles but at current government and society. Watkins made this film in response to what he perceives as a postmodern cynicism, "where ethics, human collectivity, and commitment (except to opportunism) are considered ‘old-fashioned.’" To portray the possibility for such commitment, he has created this masterfully photographed, powerfully enacted, and thoroughly engrossing "revolutionary" work.” – Harvard Film Archive