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Punishment Park

Entry updated 9 February 2017. Tagged: Film.

Film (1970). Chartwell/Françoise. Directed by Peter Watkins. Written by Watkins. Cast includes Carmen Argenziano, Stan Armsted, Jim Bohan, Frederick Franklin and Gladys Golden. 89 minutes. Colour.

Set in the Near Future, Punishment Park concerns a group of young political dissidents who are forced to endure a government-controlled "run of the gauntlet" before they can attain amnesty for their political crimes. They must travel many miles across a US desert to reach a flagpole flying the Stars and Stripes, at the same time avoiding the patrols of government troops who have orders to shoot to kill. The presence of a television team that follows one group of dissidents, increasingly involved with their situation, ingeniously increases our own involvement. Made at a time when youthful protest against the USA's involvement in Vietnam was at its peak, and a propaganda film on the side of the protesters, Punishment Park nevertheless shows a genuinely individual cinematic vision in its gloomy portrayal of a USA experiencing political repression. [JB/PN]


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