Punishment Park

A 1971 film directed by Peter Watkins.

Comrade Mike, in describing the fun time he had entirely at the British taxpayer's expense at The History Of The Future Visions From The Past, said:

"A group of discontents in an increasingly totalitarian US are interrogated and then run the gauntlet of the open California desert, pursued by vicious, intolerant law enforcement officials. It sounds like numerous crap 1970s SF movies, with the difference the English director employed no professional actors, instead seeking to employ amateurs with political views similar to the characters they played. So red-neck, middle-class, moral-majority police officers really let rip on black dissidents, hippies and pacifists. Incredibly intense and chilling - if you ever get a chance to see it, do."

IMDB summarises:

""Punishment Park" is a pseudo-documentary purporting to be a film crews's news coverage of the team of soldiers escorting a group of hippies, draft dodgers, and anti-establishment types across the desert in a type of capture the flag game. The soldiers vow not to interfere with the rebels' progress and merely shepherd them along to their destination. At that point, having obtained their goal, they will be released. The film crew's coverage is meant to insure that the military's intentions are honorable. As the representatives of the 60's counter-culture get nearer to passing this arbitrary test, the soldiers become increasingly hostile, attempting to force the hippies out of their pacifist behavior. A lot of this film appears improvised and in several scene real tempers seem to flare as some of the "acting" got overaggressive. This is a interesting exercise in situational ethics. The cinema-veritie style, hand-held camera, and ambiguous demands of the director - would the actors be able to maintain their roles given the hazing they were taking - pushed some to the brink. The cast's emotions are clearly on the surface. Unfortunately this film has gone completely underground and is next to impossible to find. It would offer a captivating document of the distrust that existed between soldiers willfully serving in the military and those persons who opposed the war peacefully."

It has been compared to Battle Royale, and might remind one of Roller Ball as well.

At least one on-line review claims that is based on the counter-factual premise that the hippies are all detained under the 1950 National Security Act. However this is a genuine piece of legislation, which makes some critics' accusations of scare-mongering sound a little less convincing. You probably mean either the National Security Act of 1947 or the Internal Security Act of 1950 (the 'McCarran Act'); probably the latter.

Category SF Movie Category Movie

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