Documentary reconstructions: a broadcast from 1871
Peter Watkins stands at the base of a form of historical documentaries known as 'documentary reconstruction'. Lightly based on battle re-enactments, Watkins hires amateur actors to play the roles of common people in the Paris of 1871. Famine and civil unrest cause a popular revolution, supported by followers of Karl Marx. The people take power and form a Commune, a communist government. After a few weeks, the official Versailles government regains the city by force, and tens of thousands of people are executed.
Watkins' historical drama is based on the common people, which are shown in their everyday life. To do this, he introduced an anachronism: in the 1871 context, the people form a tv station. The Versaillais also have their official tv station. This way, the documentary becomes both a social project and a media experiment.
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