La Commune (Paris 1871) Part 2
Directed by Peter Watkins • Documentary • 2000 • 182 minutes
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...