email Join our email list! divider Register Login cartCart
Icarus Film
Films from independent
producers worldwide.
32 Court Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201divider(718) 488 8900
La Commune: Paris, 1871
Directed by Peter Watkins
 Text Size  Increase Font Size   Decrease Font Size   divider Printable VersionPrintable Version

film still
La Commune and The Universal Clock are included together in a 3-DVD set

All of Peter Watkins films are events. When he tackles a historical moment of such magnitude as the Paris Commune of 1871, Watkins provokes, disturbs, jostles. The story, based on a thorough historical research, leads to an inevitable reflection about the present.

La Commune is the name given to the French revolutionary government established by the people of Paris during the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871). On March 17 and 18, Parisians led an uprising against the national government, which fled the capital and re-established itself in Versailles. The radicals established a proletarian government in Paris, called the Central Committee of the National Guard, and set March 26 as the date for the election of a municipal council. This council became known as the Commune of 1871, and its members as Communards. Most Communards were followers of Louis Auguste Blanqui, a revolutionary held prisoner in Versailles by the head of the National Assembly, Adolphe Thiers. Other Communards supported the school of socialism expounded by the French philosopher Pierre Joseph Proudhon and members of the International Workingmen's Association, of which Karl Marx was then a corresponding secretary.

For the film LA COMMUNE we travel back in time to 1871. A journalist for Versailles Television broadcasts a soothing and official view of events while a Commune television is set up to provide the perspectives of the Paris rebels. On a stage-like set, more than 200 actors interpret characters of the Commune, especially the Popincourt neighborhood in the XIth arrondissement. They voice their own thoughts and feelings concerning the social and political reforms. The telling of this story rests primarily on depicting the people of the Commune, and those who suppressed them.

Deliberately, this film is an attempt to challenge existing notions of documentary film, as well as the notions of 'neutrality' and 'objectivity' so beloved by the mass media today. The film is not intended as an apologia on behalf of the Paris Commune. But at the same time, it attempts to show that the Paris Commune, for all its human frailty, its internal conflicts and its blundering, was an event of major importance, not least because of the way in which its leading reformers tried to work with social process, by a direct involvement with the community and its needs.

For Peter Watkins, to make a film is to question his own work as a filmmaker. LA COMMUNE represents an uncompromising challenge to modern media and a penetrating critique.

"An intellectually challenging and tremendously moving experience, as history replayed among its contemporary ruins… LA COMMUNE is meant to evoke the unfamiliar sensation of revolutionary euphoria, or living (and dying) in a sacred time." —J. Hoberman, Village Voice

"Stunning. Peter Watkins's approach to history is to make its representation coincide with reflection on it, to film, together with the re-enactment, the idea  what history means for us today." —Boston Phoenix

"The energy, conviction and skill with which the players of LA COMMUNE perform is startling. So genuine is the force of their passion that at moments you feel they might be about to erupt and carry the revolt live into the auditorium." —Peter Lennon, The Guardian

 "Mesmerizing... A dialogue between past and present, with each time frame used to shape and define the other." —Jonathan Rosenbaum, The Chicago Reader

345 minutes / Color
French / English subtitles
Release: 2002
Copyright: 2000

For individual consumers (home video)

This DVD is sold for private, home use only.

This title is also available online from:

For colleges, universities, government agencies, hospitals and corporations

This DVD is sold with a license for institutional use and Public Performance rights.

Subject areas:
Cinema Studies, France, Historiography, History (World), Human Rights, Labor Studies, Political Theory, Politics, Western Europe, Box Sets

Related Links:
Peter Watkins

Related Titles:
Home | New | Titles | Subjects | Ordering   
About | Best Sellers | Filmmakers | Screenings   
  Follow Us! On...
Facebook Follow Icarus Films on Twitter Instagram Vimeo YouTube
Copyright (c) 2024, Icarus Films
Last Updated January 25, 2024 [Build 3.0.a060-d7]
Privacy Policy