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Punishment Park (1971)

Original Title : Punishment Park
Director : Peter Watkins
Writer : Peter Watkins
Genre : Drama
Thriller
Country : USA
Language : English
Music : Paul Motian
Photography : Joan Churchill
Peter Smokler
IMDB ID : 0067633
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poster for "Punishment Park" by Peter Watkins (1971)
Punishment Park (1971) - Peter Watkins
 

Starring

¬Jim Bohan Sheriff's Department captain
¬Paul Alelyanes .... Policeman) 
¬Carmen Argenziano Jay Kaufman
¬Stan Armsted Charles Robbins
¬Harold Beaulieu Desert militant
¬Patrick Boland Defendant
¬Kerry Cannon Policeman
¬Danny Conlon National Guardsman
¬Sandy Cox Stenographer
¬Van Daniels County Sheriff
¬Bob Franklin Policeman
¬Fred Franklyn Prof. Daly (as Frederick Franklyn
¬Gladys Golden Mrs. Jergens
¬Sanford Golden Sen. Harris
¬Rolando Gonz√°lez Desert semi-militant
¬Jack Gozdick Desert semi-militant
¬Radger Greene Federal marshal
¬Harlan Green Sheriff
¬George Gregory Mr. Keagan
¬Mitchell Harding Newscaster
¬Brian Hart Desert semi-militant
¬Mike Hodel Newscaster
¬Joe Hudgins Chief Tribunal marshal
¬Cynthia Jenkins Desert militant
¬Gary Johnson Jim Reedman
¬Gary Johnson Jim Reedman
¬Michelle Johnson Desert pacifist
¬Mark Keats Chairman Hoeger
¬Tom Kemp Tribunal marshal
¬Mary Ellen Kleinhall Allison Mitchner
¬Bob Lewine Desert militant
¬Linda Mandel Desert semi-militant
¬Lee Marks FBI Agent Donovan
¬Ted Martin Desert pacifist
¬Don Pino Desert semi-militant
¬Katherine Quittner Nancy Smith
¬Sigmund Rich Prof. Hazlett
¬Harold Schneider Desert pacifist
¬Jason Sunners Desert semi-militant
¬Conchita Thornston Desert semi-militant
¬Peter Watkins Documentarist
 

Plot

"Punishment Park" is a pseudo-documentary purporting to be a film crews's news coverage of the team of soldiers escorting a group of hippies, draft dodgers, and anti-establishment types across the desert in a type of capture the flag game. The soldiers vow not to interfere with the rebels' progress and merely shepherd them along to their destination. At that point, having obtained their goal, they will be released. The film crew's coverage is meant to insure that the military's intentions are honorable. As the representatives of the 60's counter-culture get nearer to passing this arbitrary test, the soldiers become increasingly hostile, attempting to force the hippies out of their pacifist behavior. A lot of this film appears improvised and in several scene real tempers seem to flare as some of the "acting" got overaggressive. This is a interesting exercise in situational ethics. The cinema-veritie style, hand-held camera, and ambiguous demands of the director - would the actors be able to maintain their roles given the hazing they were taking - pushed some to the brink. The cast's emotions are clearly on the surface. Unfortunately this film has gone completely underground and is next to impossible to find. It would offer a captivating document of the distrust that existed between soldiers willfully serving in the military and those persons who opposed the war peacefully.
 

Comments

The best docu-drama I've ever seen ! Punishment Park is one of these films that you'll never forget after seen it. It resume an american social crisis during the Nixon era, and the tactics of punishments of the right wing goverment to some peoples who are accused of act of sabotage in the country : Militant leaders, pacifist leaders, popular singers, and students who refused to go the Vietnam War !!the deal is clear : Life criminal reclusion in a state penitentiary or Punishment Park ! Those people are sentencedto go to an american flag put 90 miles away in the middle of a desert within 2 days, under a scorching sun, without water or they will be sentenced this time by a Police death squad. The jury is only composed by anti-communist activists such as an FBI agent, the good old housewife, the warden of a factory, and a disgusting racist militant named William C.Hoager. Rarely a film was shot in this realistic way that scare the hell out of you. It's violent, powerful, very very clever and shocking !! Don't miss this one at all cost.
 
poster for "Punishment Park"
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Punishment Park (1971) - Peter Watkins
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