In March 1871, the Parisian National Guard led an armed insurrection against France’s provisional government, sent the nation’s officials fleeing to Versailles, and transformed the capital city for two months into a socially progressive utopia. Watkin’s study of the Commune’s rise and bloody fall is equal parts meticulous historical evocation, willful anachronism and self-conscious artifice. The film takes the form of a nineteenth-century news broadcast: as an alternative to the steady stream of official propaganda emanating from “Versailles TV,” a handful of journalists enter the Commune, cameras in hand. The result, J. Hoberman wrote in The Village Voice, evokes “the unfamiliar sensation of revolutionary euphoria, or living (and dying) in a sacred time.”

  • Directed By Peter Watkins
  • 2000
  • France
  • 345 minutes