7.9/10
5,309
48 user 64 critic

Punishment Park (1971)

"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 ... See full summary »

Director:

Peter Watkins

Writer:

Peter Watkins
Reviews

Watch Now

From $4.00 (SD) on Prime Video

ON DISC

Photos

Learn more

More Like This 

Gladiatorerna (1969)
Drama | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

Some time in the future, East and West have stopped maintaining standing armies and nuclear weapons. Instead, to settle their differences they pit different teams of crack combat specialists against each other.

Director: Peter Watkins
Stars: Arthur Pentelow, Frederick Danner, Hans Bendrik
The War Game (TV Movie 1965)
Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A docudrama depicting a hypothetical nuclear attack on Britain.

Director: Peter Watkins
Stars: Michael Aspel, Peter Graham, Dave Baldwin
Drama | History | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

In this war drama blurring the lines between documentary and fiction, the working class and the bourgeoisie of 19th century Paris are interviewed and covered on television, before and during a tragic workers' class revolt.

Director: Peter Watkins
Stars: Eliane Annie Adalto, Pierre Barbieux, Bernard Bombeau
The Battle of Culloden (TV Movie 1964)
Drama | History | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

A reconstruction of the Battle of Culloden, the last battle to take place on British soil, as if modern TV cameras were present.

Director: Peter Watkins
Stars: Tony Cosgrove, Olivier Espitalier-Noel, Don Fairservice
Edvard Munch (TV Movie 1974)
Biography | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  

Following a rough chronology from 1884 to 1894, when Norwegian artist Edvard Munch began expressionism and established himself as northern Europe's most maligned and controversial artist, ... See full summary »

Director: Peter Watkins
Stars: Geir Westby, Gro Fraas, Kerstii Allum
Aftenlandet (1977)
Drama | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Made with a cast of 192 non-professional actors, Evening Land continues to explore the form of fictional documentary intervening polemically into a period of intense debates about the media... See full summary »

Director: Peter Watkins
Stars: Bent Andersen, Kai Schøning Andersen, Mogens Andersen
Privilege (1967)
Comedy | Drama | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Steven Shorter is the ultimate British music star. His music is listened to by everyone from pre-teens to grandparents. He has no trace of public bad habits or drug involvement. Everyone in... See full summary »

Director: Peter Watkins
Stars: Paul Jones, Jean Shrimpton, Mark London
Fällan (TV Movie 1975)
Drama | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

In the year 1999, totalitarianism prevails with the U.S.S.R. and U.S.A. colluding to govern the world by strict rules. Chaos erupts on the surface but state employees live safely ... See full summary »

Director: Peter Watkins
Stars: Karl Lennart Sandquist, Bo Melander, Anita Kronevi
Fritänkaren (Video 1994)
Biography | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

a 274-minute documentary portrait of the life of playwright August Strindberg. The topic of the movie is inextricable from its method of production: for two years, beginning in 1992, Watkins created the film in a communal collaboration.

Director: Peter Watkins
Stars: Anders Mattsson, Lena Settervall, Roland Borgström
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Patrick Boland Patrick Boland ... First Tribunal Defendant
Kent Foreman Kent Foreman ... Defendant in the tribunal
Carmen Argenziano ... Jay Kaufman, Tribunal Defendant
Luke Johnson Luke Johnson ... Defendant in the tribunal
Katherine Quittner Katherine Quittner ... Nancy Smith
Scott Turner ... James Arthur Kohler, Tribunal Defendant
Stan Armsted Stan Armsted ... Charles Robbins
Mary Ellen Kleinhall Mary Ellen Kleinhall ... Allison Mitchner
Mark Keats Mark Keats ... William C. Hoeger, Tribunal Chairman
Gladys Golden Gladys Golden ... Mary Jurgens, Tribunal Member
Sanford Golden Sanford Golden ... Sen. Harris
George Gregory George Gregory ... Mr. Keagan
Norman Sinclair Norman Sinclair ... Alfred J. Sully - Tribunal Member
Sigmund Rich Sigmund Rich ... Prof. Hazlett
Paul Rosenstein Paul Rosenstein ... Paul Reynolds - Tribunal Member
Edit

Storyline

"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 scenes real tempers seem to flare as some of the "acting" got overaggressive. This is a interesting exercise in situational ethics. The cinéma vérité style, hand-held camera, and ambiguous demands of the director - would the actors be ... Written by Dick Rockwell <dr1orok@atlas.moa.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Thriller

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
Edit

Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

10 February 1972 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Büntető park See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Many of the "actors" were not acting in a traditional sense. In the introduction, Peter Watkins says many protesters were real-life protesters, and most soldiers were real-life conservatives. All improvised lines based on their opinions. There were no rehearsals. See more »

Goofs

At the end of the film, when the defendants of group 638 are listening their sentences and again when they are being asked if the prefer the Punishment Park instead of their original sentences, Allison Mitchner is being referred by the president/judge as Mary Ellen Mitchner. At the start of the film she is being referred as Allison Mitchner. The name of the actress that plays the role of Allison Mitchner is Mary Ellen Kleinhall. See more »

Quotes

Defendant Lee Robert Brown: America is as psycotic ai it is powerful and violence is the only goddamn thing that will command your attention.
See more »

Crazy Credits

There are no opening credits at all. The title doesn't appear until halfway through the closing credits. See more »

Connections

Featured in Hagan Reviews: Punishment Park (2017) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
Extremely relevant, audacious and very impressive pseudo-documentary
17 October 2005 | by tezSee all my reviews

My curiosity and patience to finally see this controversial film, which now has been released on DVD for the first time in the UK, has been more than rewarded. Peter Watkins has excelled himself in his audacity and technical skills. This pseudo-documentary is certainly ahead of its time and still frighteningly relevant and up to date.

The film is inspired by the upheaval of the late sixties in the US, when the government has increased its legitimized use of violence and oppression, while the anti-war movement reacts increasingly violent and radical. In order to deal with both this, the overpopulation of prisons and to provide special training to riot police units, the government has introduced the so-called punishment parks. Convicted 'criminals', mostly activists, are given the 'choice' to either be locked up in prison for years and years, or spend three days in one of these parks, where they either gain their freedom their death or an even longer prison sentence. The situation in the parks is beyond their worst expectations, however. It reminded me of a sort of realistic version of Battle Royale (2000).

The film's structure is extremely effective and recalls parallels with Cannibal Holocaust, which is made almost 10 years later. Both movies are constructed and filmed in such a way that the viewer is challenged in thinking and feeling he is actually watching a real documentary and therefore shocked, even though aware of the fact that: this is a film. Both confront us with the inherently violent nature of mankind, but where Cannibal Holocaust is devoid of any deeper meaning (above all, it is an exploitation movie in every sense of the word) and does not raise any critical questions about the state of the world, Punishment Park does just that.

I have been profoundly impressed with Punishment Park and find it hard to believe how such a powerful and important film could have been rejected and marginalized for so long. Maybe that says enough about the truth of its content, about the way power structures in this world function. I do not agree with the critique that Watkins polarizes and stereotypes, because the movie depicts activists and the keepers of the legitimized power structures who are in reality as polarized as they are here. If they weren't, there would not be any conflict and therefore no change in our societies. In reality, confrontations between these two groups often take stereotypical forms, whether you place them between activists and establishment in Latin America, Russia or New York City. If these groups would not be polarized to these extremes, the activists would be part of the silent majorities that tacitly complain but at the same time reside in the injustices of the world.

As Peter Watkins tells us in the introduction on the DVD, the actors in Punishment Park are for the most part amateurs. Most kids were real activists from LA, most policemen had been part of the national forces and even some of the members of the tribunals are part of the social and political establishment of the time. Not introducing both groups previous to the shooting of the scenes taking place in the improvised court room, adds to spontaneous and improvised feel. Parallels are drawn with issues of the time, such as the repression of Black Panther members (one of the black prisoners is said to resemble the convicted charismatic BPleader Bobby Seale) and the trial of the Chicago seven.

I admire Watkins' obvious and sincere engagement with injustice and his concern with human rights and the increasingly repressive measures taken by governments (nowadays in the name of the War in Terror) to silence those that do not agree and refuse to be brainwashed. Punishment Park remains to be an extremely important movie that should be shown in schools and seen by everybody who shares these concerns. Maybe its marginalization can finally be made up for.


43 of 50 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 48 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Stream Comedy Titles With Prime Video

Explore popular comedy titles available to stream with Prime Video.

Start your free trial



Recently Viewed