Welcome to Fandor. Watch thousands of award-winning films online. ×

Punishment Park 1971

  • 4.2
The war in Vietnam is escalating. There is massive public protest in the United States and elsewhere. President Nixon declares a state of national emergency and the federal authorities are given the power to detain persons judged to be "a risk to internal security." In a desert zone in southwest California, a civilian tribunal passes sentence on groups of dissidents and gives them the option of participating in law enforcement training exercises in the Bear Mountain National Punishment Park. In an atmosphere of aggression and intimidation and in soaring temperatures, the prisoners have to fight for their lives as they are hunted down by the forces of law and order.

Copy embed code

×

What makes this film worth watching? See All Reviews

Official selection of the 1971 Cannes Film Festival.


1 member likes this review

These hippies really get the treatment! Peter Watkins is one of the most groundbreaking documentary filmmakers ever, along with Chris Marker, Michael Glawogger, and Agnes Varda; these guys are simple the greatest.

127953.small
top reviewer
Starring
Directed By
Produced By
Cinematography
Edited By
Written By
Music By

Member Reviews (11)

127953.small
top reviewer

These hippies really get the treatment! Peter Watkins is one of the most groundbreaking documentary filmmakers ever, along with Chris Marker, Michael Glawogger, and Agnes Varda; these guys are simple the greatest.

1 member likes this review

A pretty good flick about the American Police State in the 1960's.

1 member likes this review

Jesus.

A low-key, utterly fucking harrowing take on the BATTLE ROYALE / HUNGER GAMES / RUNNING MAN-style narrative, where political dissidents arrested on thin pretenses are made to run a 50-mile "training course" in the desert while being hunted by police and national guardsmen with live ammunition.

These days you'd probably pass it off as a found-footage exercise, but what really distinguishes PUNISHMENT PARK -- other than Watkins' fantastic command of camera and tone -- is its unabashed leftist politics. HUNGER GAMES and their ilk all make vague feints towards a moral (usually "if the government hunted people for sport, that would be wrong"), but PARK forefronts the political rhetoric, drawing an unabashed connection between the fictional reality being portrayed on screen and the real-world political landscape of the time. Watkins presents a passionate condemnation of the way the U.S. government systematically sought to undermine the anarchist / socialist / leftist protesters of the (then-ongoing) Vietnam War.

Rather than following the visceral ins-an-outs of the prisoners' struggle to survive, Watkins follows their progress with a detached, cool eye. He frequently intercuts their progress with courtroom sequences showcasing the political realities of this alternate America. By keeping the style as controlled and unassuming as possible, he bolsters the credibility of this fake world while simultaneously building parallels with the real one.

It's an impressive feat of filmmaking, a fitting extension to the anti-war work he began with in 1965 with THE WAR GAME.

Perfect.

timeless, disturbing, important

that sucked

127953.small
top reviewer

You're entitled to your opinion....

This is a very revealing and timely movie and thanks for making it available.Well made and produced throughout.

Stellar.

The greatest of all political filmmakers Watkins "Punishment Park" is less of a fantasy than it might seem to the uninformed. The land set aside for the inarceration of the Japanese during WWII emains ingovernment control and the possibility that history might repeat itelf with other groups --especially political ones like "Occupy" remains. Moreover as this government tortures people overseas there's no reason why it won't do so here if the circumstances arise. Fascist blockbustrers like "The Hunger Games" make the viewing of "Punishment Park" today a;ll the more potent. It's been 41 years but it's as if it were yesterday.

Official selection of the 1971 Cannes Film Festival.

The war in Vietnam is escalating. There is massive public protest in the United States and elsewhere. President Nixon declares a state of national emergency and the federal authorities are given the power to detain persons judged to be "a risk to internal security." In a desert zone in southwest California, a civilian tribunal passes sentence on groups of dissidents and gives them the option of participating in law enforcement training exercises in the Bear Mountain National Punishment Park. In an atmosphere of aggression and intimidation and in soaring temperatures, the prisoners have to fight for their lives as they are hunted down by the forces of law and order.

Genres:

Wow! A trip back in time, a political manifesto, and most of all a truly gripping and original film!

The greatest of all political filmmakers Watkins "Punishment Park" is less of a fantasy than it might seem to the uninformed. The land set aside for the inarceration of the Japanese during WWII emains ingovernment control and the possibility that history might repeat itelf with other groups --especially political ones like "Occupy" remains. Moreover as this government tortures people overseas there's no reason why it won't do so here if the circumstances arise. Fascist blockbustrers like "The Hunger Games" make the viewing of "Punishment Park" today a;ll the more potent. It's been 41 years but it's as if it were yesterday.