Peter Watkins Le Commune (de Paris) 1871 film still

Peter Watkins
Le Commune (de Paris 1871)

© Peter Watkins

Shot over 13 days in an abandoned factory on the outskirts of Paris, the epic, astonishing La Commune (Paris, 1871) re-enacts revolutionary events of the the Paris Commune, a citizens’ revolt against the French royalist government during the spring of 1871 and a key event in the history of the European working class. A group of 200 non-professional actors, encouraged to research the history of the insurrection and their roles within it, recreate the events and atmosphere of the uprising on a stage-like set. Two perspectives on the events are offered: an official view by Versailles Television and that of the rebels via ‘la télévision communale’.

The Paris Commune has always been severely marginalized by the French education system, despite - or perhaps because of - the fact that it is a key event in the history of the European working class, and when we first met, most of the cast admitted that they knew little or nothing about the subject. It was very important that the people become directly involved in our research on the Paris Commune, thereby gaining an experiential process in analyzing those aspects of the current French system which are failing in their responsibility to provide citizens with a truly democratic and participatory process.

Peter Watkins