Punishment Park - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Punishment Park Reviews

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February 7, 2016
Even while fictional, Punishment Park is as real as it gets with its unprecedented political commentary which brings towards many disturbing as well as thoughtful moments regarding justice and violence all under a format that adds to its political stances and to the harsh feelings it wants to convey.
½ June 26, 2015
a very original film, maybe one of the first mockumentaries that could actually convince those who know nothing about it beforehand that this actually happened. I presume this can be considered a protest film made by political paranoids.
June 11, 2015
This movie still applies today. With the police doing what ever they want to anyone and is getting away with anytime.. Sad thing hasn't changed since 1971
April 20, 2015
Really worth watching, thought provoking
July 23, 2014
Brutal, Atemporal, cruda y elegante.
June 24, 2014
Shot during the post-Kent State "law and order" election of 1970, Punishment Park can seem so outrageous as to verge on camp, but few other films capture so painfully the rhetoric and desperation of the times while resonating as profoundly relevant some 40+ years later..
January 9, 2014
The film could be thought of as a political allegory of the tense situation prevailing in the early between those who are advocating the end of the war in Vietnam, racial equality i.e. the radical left and leftist movements, who sought to achieve their goals by means of protesting and formation of organizations and by literature of dissent agaisnt those who are more concerned about the law and order and the preservation of the status quo.

The pseudo documentary switches between the harrowing experiences of those who are forced to run through the Mojave in the scorching midday sun and whether the freezing heat of the night and those who are standing trial to allegations of dissent against the establishment of the govt.

The characters are portrayed realistically and with appropriate attire - with those advocating dissent shown to be dressed up in casuals and no concern about how they're dressed and those who are sitting on the bench in proper formal and dignified attire.

Through these polemical discourses, the director seeks to provoke a dialogue or start a debate among the national leaders or all those who want to have a say about the issues that plague America and which has caused so much unrest and friction.

This documentary is certainly one-sided but also it is trying portray the chaotic times that America had witnessed earlier in the sixties in a pictorial and allegorical form, where trust between the authorities and the citizens were at their lowest. Thus is it renders a necessary viewing to those who seek to learn about the ideas that were in the political climate. And also the totalitarian nature of those who run the power.
Super Reviewer
September 22, 2013
Great flick! A smart faux documentary that pains a world which feels all too real and it's messages remain all too relevant. Deeply disturbing.
Super Reviewer
March 15, 2013
one of the best political films from the turbulent period of leftist activism of the late 60s and still just as relevant today, what with guantanamo bay still open
January 26, 2013
The most interesting parts of the film are the rebuttals by the prisoners of the tribunals which can be applied even to todays government and media. I highly recommend seeing this film.
½ January 6, 2013
Excellent Watkins + all his works.
Super Reviewer
December 31, 2012
Ladies, gentlemen: in one breathtaking year for American cinema, Punishment Park was overshadowed by big-financial-success flicks throughout the months. Of course, that does not stop Watkins' arguments for composing the best US film of 1971.

What is striking is the thin line of difference between past times and today: the conservative, narrow-minded social/political/economical quotes that the authorities use in order to justify their "merits" and actions forcefully imposed over any geographical area with an 'x' amount of population, AND the idealized version of the rebellious ambitions that have influenced the stream of thinking and action of modern youth, who nowadays come to be our parents. If God allows it, we may have children too, yet self-justice and selfish proclamations over the rights of an individual have always caused the same outcome everywhere: violence (raised to any level you want: manifestations, riots, guerrillas, wars, genocides).

The more decades pass, the more blind souls should realize that there is only one solution to the problem of international social injustice: Christ in the hearts of humanity. Trust in man's limited judgment, and you're officially f****d.

September 21, 2012
The best film i saw till now in 2012
½ September 17, 2012
This pseudo documentary is brutal & psychologically violent. It starkly expresses the polarizing political climate in America in the 70s, but it's overall themes are still highly pertinent. Shot on 16mm in documentary format it feels gritty & realistic, additionally the actors improvised dialogue & the film making blurred with the story as actors/characters got so involved in the situation. It feels reminiscent of the Stanford prison experiment. It makes the audience uncomfortable having to confront what we would do under similar circumstances. Watkins makes the audience uncomfortable & deliberately doesn't glorify the military or make any characters particularly relatable which is highly deviant from typical Hollywood/American film making, and thus provoked much controversy at the time of release. It still is powerful & resonates today to issues of police brutality, rights of free speech, the justice/injustice of war etc. This is an unflinching look at humanity and worth watching.
March 26, 2012
Need to give this one another look. Pre-reality tv "documentary" in which political dissidents (usually on trumped up charges) are given a chance at freedom by participating in military training exercises
March 23, 2012
The film is very intense and quite brutal. The documentary feel is used to the best of it's abilities.
Though it feels like a half an hour film stretched out to 80 minutes and it's very much a movie made for the late 1960's and doesnt have much ressonence today.
It does have a great last 30 minutes or so which is done brilliantly
½ March 4, 2012
Anyone want to bet that Dick Cheney saw this in 1971 and thought "wow, what a great idea!"
January 5, 2012
My favorite mockumentary.
December 17, 2011
I seriously can't get enough of Peter Watkins. Some directors have work that is so powerful it kinda shapes you a little different after seeing it. Well he shapes you but he goes to work with a pickaxe. The scenes of the prisoners testifying at the hearing are scary enough because anything they say isn't being heard. But Watkins cuts between what looks like the lead policeman giving instructions on how to shoot certain weapons and what procedures should be taken to detain the prisoners. Watkins deserves praise for having his finger on the pulse and putting out a film that contains everything that was talked about and discussed in the moment and things Americans didn't comfortably discuss for years and even decades later.
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