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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 González 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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