directed by Peter Watkins
France 2000


Sustained over a period of hours, this impassioned hubbub conveys tremendous immediacy. (In The Universal Clock, a Canadian documentary on Watkins that Anthology is also showing, the filmmaker can be seen pacing, pointing, and even jumping for emphasis as he conducts the unfolding action.) La Commune is meant to evoke the unfamiliar sensation of revolutionary euphoria, of living—and dying—in a sacred time. Watkins's cast members researched their characters as much as they learned their lines; their performances are less a matter of acting than role-playing. In their 1962 "Theses on the Paris Commune," the French Situationists noted that those who examine history from "the omniscient viewpoint of God [or] the classical novelist . . . can easily prove that the Commune was objectively doomed. . . . They forget that for those who really lived it, the fulfillment was already there." And so it is here. Focused on process and profoundly anachronistic, La Commune was unfashionably intended to change the lives of its participants.


Like Culloden, La Commune is in good measure an action film that builds inexorably to a powerful climax. This syncretic work of left-wing modernism—suggesting not only Brecht and Vertov but Soviet mass spectacle and didactic Godard—is at once immediate and self-reflexive. Watkins restages history in its own ruins, uses the media as a frame, and even so, manages to imbue his narrative with amazing presence. No less than the event it chronicles, La Commune is a triumph of spontaneous action.

Excerpt from J. Hoberman's Review in the Village Voice HERE



Theatrical Release: September 6th, 2001

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DVD Review: Doriane Films - Region 2 - PAL

DVD Box Cover

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First Run Features also has this in a 3-disc package in region one here:


Doriane Films

Region 2 - PAL

Runtime 5:45:45 (4% PAL speedup)

1.78:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 5.7 # mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.


Audio Dolby Digital 2.0 (French)
Subtitles English
Features Release Information:
Studio: Doriane Films

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.78:1

Edition Details:
• Interview with Peter Watkins
• Chronology of the Commune (text)
• Peter Watkins Filmography

DVD Release Date: February 14th, 2003
Keep Case

Chapters 35




This is the French DVD of Peter Watkins' remarkable "La Commune". The rather unknown company Doriane Films provide us with a very good image transfer here (considering that it was shot on DV). Contrast and sharpness are excellent and the amount of grain is quite tolerable.  

The 2.0 soundtrack doesn't disappoint and makes this dialogue-driven film completely comprehensible at all times. There are rather large English subtitles in yellow on this disc, but due to being optional they are preferable to the burnt-in ones on the US First Run Features release (which, by the way, features a documentary on Peter Watkins that cannot be found on this one).

The only real extra we get is an interesting interview with Peter Watkins.

 - Stan Czarnecki


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DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

First Run Features also has this in a 3-disc package in region one here:


Doriane Films

Region 2 - PAL


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