導演：彼德．獲健士作品｜製作：13 Production, La Sept Art, Musée d’orsay｜語言：法語/中文及英文字幕｜1999/法國/黑白/345分鐘
彼得．獲建士(Peter Watkins) 比誰都認真和關心社會，也一直致力創新影視 「藝術」。今古交錯是他的疏離手法之一，演員時而扮演公社中的角色，時而做回自己，暢談當下的心情和對角色的看法 ; 這邊廂，一群婦女在公社開會，話題慢慢轉向1999年的法國女性；那邊廂公社的男人談電視，談現代的媒體，談日本的衰落 ; 不同時空的話題，互相對照，迫切而貼身。 電影中和電影外的討論都是運動的一部分。片中扮演婦女同盟的人後來就組織起來把片中的議題帶到現實生活裡繼續爭取，社會行動巳走出銀幕進入生活。 這樣豐富的一部作品遠非幾百字可以言明，如何放映和用這部片已大有學問，還是留待觀眾自己去體會。
Director: Peter Watkins ｜Production: 13 Production, La Sept Art,
Musée d’orsay｜French with English and Chinese Subtitles｜1999 / France / B&W / 345 minutes
‘Look! This is where we shot the last scene yesterday.’ Two actors show the camera (us) the set where La Commune was made. Please do not think you are watching a documentary of the film for the camera will soon become the journalist/ cameraman of the Commune TV, going about interviewing people. Yes, I mean TV! In the film, you will watch TV news in 1871! Do not mistake this film for a farce as Peter Watkins is more serious than anybody else and few can match his concern for the society. He is also an ardent inventor in film and television arts. Anachronism is just one of his alienating tactics. In this film, actors sometimes play the roles and sometimes play themselves to talk about their feelings at the moment and commend on the characters. When a group of Commune women shift their discussion of French women’s predicaments in 1871 to that of 1999, men in the commune are talking about TV, the modern media, and the decline of Japan. Issues of different times and places juxtapose, intersect, and reflect on each other pressing and close to home.
As a film artist and activist, Watkins challenges the director centered traditional undemocratic way of filmmaking that renders audience as passive recipients. Watkins meticulously designed and controlled the production of La Commune but he also demanded and gave plenty of room for active participations from the actors. The director provides the backbone and the framework while everybody involved fills in the flesh and blood. For example, the important components of the film —dialogues and discussions— are taken from real discussions among actors during rehearsals who were told to play out the characters they have meticulously researched as well as their real selves in present day France. This is democratic collective creation in a controlled manner. On the activist level, he laments the lost of commitment and idealism and explains on his website why he made this film: “. . . the idea of commitment to a struggle for a better world, and of the need for some form of collective social Utopia [Paris Commune] – which WE now need. . . “and review many of the issues raised in the Commune but still failed to be resolve today. Therefore, he alienates the audience but requires them and the actors to participate at the same time in discussing many of the issues. For this purpose, he left a lot of space and information for audience to discuss (He did not mention it but such practice reminds me of an Argentinean documentary, Hours of the Furnaces, where the film stopped screening midway and asked audience to start discussion). The discussions inside and outside the film are parts of a social action. People playing members of the Women’s Union in the Commune later actually formed a group to fight for the issues raised in the film. Thus social action steps out of the screen and into our real lives. La Commune is Watkins at his best and is exemplary of using filmmaking as social action. In Britain, only Ken Loach’s works can barely match the strong social and political sense of Watkins’ and Watkins has an edge over Peter Greenaway in setting his experimentations on solid social grounds. This short introduction can hardly do justice to such a rich film as how to show and use the film already require great wisdom. I better leave our clever audience to fathom its depths.
Inside a giant warehouse in a working-class Parisian suburb, Peter Watkins assembles a cast of over 200 non-professional actors (though their amateur status is undetectable). Basing their work upon thorough historical research, they will attempt tore- create the events of March, 1871-the rise and fall of the Paris Commune.
La Commune (Paris, 1871) explores that famous, brief, romantic, and tragic period when poor and working-class Parisians rose up against the “bourgeois” French national government, which fled the capital and re-established itself in Versailles. As this complex historical drama unfolds, it is also “ covered” by two television news crews – one from “National TV Versailles” which broadcasts the official version of events, the other from “Commune TV,” giving voice to the rebellious Communards.
Mixing past and present, revolutionary in form as well as content, Watkins’s audacious masterpiece forces us to confront notions of a safe or objective reading of the past, and also to reflect, inevitably, upon the present. No one who meets the challenge of La Commune (Paris, 1871) will be unchanged by the experience.