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also known as Aftenlandet

Evening Land1977

  • 4.2
"In October 1975, I was invited by Stig Björkman, a Swedish filmmaker in charge of production for the Danish Film Institute, to begin research on a feature film which was to be funded chiefly by the Institute and two private producers, Steen Herdel and Ebbe Preisler. Together with Danish director/writer Poul Martinsen and journalist Carsten Clante, we co-wrote the script of what became EVENING LAND. Like most of my other films, this one involved extensive research, a brief outline and almost no written dialogue. I began filming in March 1976 with a cast of 192 non-professional actors and Joan Churchill (PUNISHMENT PARK) as cinematographer. EVENING LAND depicts ‘fictional’ events in Europe at that time, beginning with a strike at a shipyard in Copenhagen over the building of four submarines for the French Navy: not only because the financially troubled management has proposed a wage freeze to secure the contract but because it is discovered that the vessels can be fitted with nuclear missiles. At the same time, a summit meeting of European Common Market ministers takes place in Copenhagen and a group of radical demonstrators kidnap the Danish EEC Minister in protest against the production of nuclear submarines in Denmark and in support of the strikers’ demands." - Peter Watkins

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Posits "...that even the most leftist state is one chain of events away from a right-wing takeover." - Sam Adams, Philadelphia City Paper


Member Reviews (2)

Having seen what happened at the G8 demonstration in Toronto and how the Occupy movement was treated by the mainstream press, police and those in governance I do not see any difference between what Peter Watkins shows us of police brutality against peaceful demonstrators. Living in Canada which usually is a progressive country and having seen how quickly that changed with our federal Conservative government led by Stephen Harper I understand how quickly a centre left democracy can descend into near fascism. Peter Watkins does a great job in this film of depicting a fictional scenario but that mirrors reality using direct cinema techniques and a realist style including non-actors and actresses. Some people even mistake this film for a documentary. That is the genius of Peter Watkins.

For an American, living in a land where the rights of workers have been severely curtailed, where even the most left of major media would appear right-wing by European standards, where any suggestion that workers might have a voice in choosing not to produce weapons would be considered an assault on the "ideals" of free market capitalism, where our courts have handed democracy to the rich oligarchs on a silver platter, and where even local police are as well armed as most militaries, this film, as dated as it might be, it is still a bit of an eye-opener. Memories in this country are very shallow. We have forgotten how far the political march to the right has taken us. We have forgotten what we have lost.

Peter Watkins and the others associated with producing this film are to be complemented. The use of non-actors, often speaking in their own voices, and in their own words, gives this fiction and documentary style and sense of reality that is seldom seen in hours sleek Hollywood productions. This film demonstrates that movies can lead to thinking as well as feeling, that emotion can be guided toward productive thought. Powerful stuff.