Commune (Paris, 1871), La

Director: Peter Watkins
Year Released: 2000
Rating: 2.5

Mammoth documentary with a post-modern slant - covering the revolt in Paris in the late 19th century that created a sort-of Socialist state and eventually fell to pieces because of corruption and mistakes by the Communards. The admiration generated by Watkins' ambition and skillfully thorough dissection of the events - over 200 extras (each doing his/her own research), a correlation to modern values, close to six hours in length and extensive documentation - is off-set by the unwieldiness of the object in itself and the perhaps inappropriate afterthought that a scaled down version might have been just as - if not more - potent (when it comes to pictures with extraordinary running times like this or Shoah or Sátántangó, to name three, the girth of the project immediately declares it as something 'outside' of cinema and therefore suspiciously pretentious). Those willing to invest the time - and comfortable with Watkins' technique, a less-than-subtle approach of interviewing virtually every participant, most of whom are given to shouting and very strong opinions - will find much to value; the most I knew about this even came from what I read about in Daniel Guérin's book Anarchism. If anything, it may serve as a template for how not to run a revolution in the future, if indeed revolution of this kind is even possible anymore.