Punishment Park (1971) torrent download

Punishment Park


Drama / Thriller



"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 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. —Dick Rockwell


Peter Watkins


Carmen Argenziano
as Jay Kaufman
Patrick Boland
as First Tribunal Defendant
Kent Foreman
as Defendant in the tribunal
Luke Johnson
as Defendant in the tribunal
Katherine Quittner
as Nancy Smith
Stan Armsted
as Charles Robbins

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by kosmasp 9 /10


As far as fake documentaries go (fakumentaries anyone?), this one is up there with the best! It looks very real and that is what it aims for. In recent light of events (Guantanamo) this movie is even scarier, so you could say it was ahead of it's time, when it was released in the 70s!

One can only hope that a government like that doesn't exist! Looking for terrorists and interviewing people just like that? Of course the people interviewed all seemed to have the same (70s mentality): Screw the politicians and politics in general. Maybe that wasn't so clever one might think ... but hey, don't forget: It's only a movie! ;o)

Reviewed by Quinoa1984 10 /10

a film that questions how to live, how to die, and what it means to be in a country at war

Peter Watkins' film Punishment Park is nothing if not a sincere cry for justice. Of course the film is a metaphor, a provocation, a sort of alternate reality that could have been a science fiction fable if it wasn't so naturalistic as a "fake" documentary. And of course there weren't 'Punishment Parks' in America in 1970 when the film was made, where dissidents and rabble-rousers and draft dodgers were taken and given the chance to either participate in the 'game' or go to prison without a fair trial. And sure, at the time, the film got panned for being too blunt an instrument of provocation, of being so much about its subjects of the US versus THEM element that it was too much.

But what can be said of the film today? At the time for those who didn't know it was a "fake" documentary, like in Finland, they panned the US government for allowing such a thing like this to happen! This is, perhaps, the best kind of compliment Peter Watkins could have received - certainly he fared better there than with the film critics who panned it and, ultimately, the film got four days of distribution by a no-nothing company before being pulled from NY city screens (it fared worse in being shown on TV or elsewhere, where for years it was just unavailable). Seeing it in 2010 is still a shocker some forty years later. Not because of what it says about its time and place, that's a given, about the rift between those in power and those not, but that it could still happen, in a slightly less extreme form, today (just look at the atrocity of justice with Guantanamo Bay for that).

There's something about this film that gets under my skin. It got its way in within the first ten minutes, by sinking its teeth with its structure, of it being a British documentary on this 'Punishment Park' out in the California baron wasteland (it could be Death Valley, but whatever it is it's unbearable conditions), and how nothing is made to look fantastic. The nerve of the film is like that of Night of the Living Dead in its no-holds-barred hand-held approach to photography (only in this case the police seem to be the zombies, albeit with more of a brain which is perhaps much more frightening). Watkins cuts between this demonstration of what the 'Park' is - a three to four day excursion from one point to another where those who volunteer (and there are many, as the alternative is years in prison) who have to get to an American flag. Which is not easy when you have police just getting ready and more than willing to kick the crap out of those dissidents and, of course, shoot to kill.

This is all meant as metaphor, and the most contemporary example I could think of as comparison would be District 9 (though that film didn't carry out its artistic premise anywhere near as thoroughly as this). But the metaphor is strong because of a) what was happening at the time, with Chicago and Kent State and the trial of the Chicago 7 (Bobby Seale's gagging during the trial is recreated here with one such African American on "trial"), and of the attitudes at the time. The what if shouldn't be diminished because of thinking practically about what would happen if this really did occur. What matters is making it seem real, carrying the documentary aesthetic and toying with it - Watkins goes from objective reporter to subjective "WTF"-ing at the police killing and maiming people from one scene to the next, which is chillingly effective - to make the experience last in the mind.

Aside from it being a rigorous example of film-making, and a satire that is about as funny as a burning school-bus on a field trip, Punishment Park gets some major points. And the fact that many in the film never acted before or wouldn't again (some of which were actual dissidents and protesters as the kids, and some of the cops were actual cops) heightens the tension and moral identity of the scenes. But really its ultimate impact is that it lasts, in the mind as well as the consciousness of a nation. The US has laws in place to keep this from happening, to be sure, but at what point does the line thin away? Most recently there's been question of how to put on trial those accused of terrorism against the US. That, too, is an extreme example, but, again, where is that line drawn? A question I was left with at the end, or thought people might have by the end of it, is "What will be done about it?" Or, more precisely, "What can be done?" It's a call to arms that shook me up and made me depressed, but I can't say it didn't do it in the way that matters. It's one of the great incendiary films in our history; that it's also an experimental piece in the realm of documentary-meets-fiction, breaking all boundaries for its message, is further extraordinary.

Reviewed by michaelRokeefe 4 /10

A choice is given. How important is living?

Done in a mock-documentary style, late 60's subversives and supposed detractors of the mainstream government are arrested and given a choice. Upon sentencing for their wrong doings,there is a choice of going to prison for 7 years to life or spending three days and two nights in a southern California desert at Punishment Park. In the 100 degree heat, the prisoners are to trek fifty some odd miles to an American flag for their freedom. US and state law enforcers will follow two hours latter. If the dissidents are captured it means prison.

Appearing in this pseudo-documentary: Carmen Argenziano, Katherine Quittner, Mary Ellen Kleinhall, Stan Armsted, Scott Turner, Patrick Boland and Kent Foreman.

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