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Punishment Park 2011 NR CC


Available on Prime
(48) IMDb 7.9/10

In a desert zone in southwest California, a civilian tribunal passes sentence on groups of dissidents and gives them the option of participating in law enforcement training exercises in the Bear Mountain National Punishment Park. In an atmosphere of aggre

Patrick Boland, Kent Foreman
1 hour, 28 minutes

Available to watch on supported devices.

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Product Details

Genres Drama, Thriller
Director Peter Watkins
Starring Patrick Boland, Kent Foreman
Supporting actors Carmen Argenziano, Luke Johnson, Katherine Quittner, Scott Turner, Stan Armsted, Mary Ellen Kleinhall, Mark Keats, Gladys Golden, Sanford Golden, George Gregory, Norman Sinclair, Sigmund Rich, Paul Rosenstein, Lee Marks, Sandy Cox, Fred Franklyn, Ross Briegleb, Joe Hudgins
Studio Syndicado
MPAA rating NR (Not Rated)
Captions and subtitles English Details
Rental rights 7-day viewing period. Details
Purchase rights Stream instantly and download to 2 locations Details
Format Amazon Video (streaming online video and digital download)

Other Formats

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

42 of 45 people found the following review helpful By John Capute on November 14, 2005
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I first saw this film in 1976, my freshman year of college, played and replayed for free in the student union building of the University of New Mexico. Two points about that: one: this was not the usual "entertainment" one would expect to find played for students killing time between classes, and two: this film would not be played at all in any university or college open space today. There is no contemporary counterpart for Peter Watkins that I can think of today--he makes someone like Michael Moore look like a sixth grader with his first camcorder. Watkins is best known for his 1965 film The War Game, a rumination on what would happen if nuclear war struck the UK, shot in his trademark "you-are-there" psuedo documentary style. The film was immediatelty banned by the BBC who had originally commisioned it, for being too realistic and disturbing. (Duh--what were they expecting, The Day After?) Watkins other great film, not available in the US, and as far as I know, never shown in American since it first appeared on PBS, then NET, in 1964, is Culloden, about the battle between the British and Scottish rebels under Bonnie Prince Charlie at Culloden Moor in the mid-eighteenth century. I saw it when it was tv in 64 and images from it still remain with me, 40 years later. Punishment Park proposes a US, circa 1971, where those actively against the Vietnam war, instead of being imprisoned, are set loose in some southwestern desert, pursued by police and National Guard; if they manage to reach the destination set for them by their jailers, they are set free. If not...Implausible? Over the top? Paranoid? Perhaps. But I wonder what Watkins would say about The Patriot Act. About our treatment of Iraqi prisoners. The film shocked me thirty years ago, and I think it will shock me when I see it again. Watkins, as unknown as he is, still is one of the important filmmakers to come out of Britian in the 60s. Perhaps this will signal the availablity of his other rarely seen films.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Anna Otto on January 3, 2006
Format: DVD
It took me a few minutes into the film to realize it was shot in the early seventies and, in fact, was about the era of Nixon rather than the era of Bush. The similarities are creepy to say the least.

The film is about the state of national emergency proclaimed by the president of the United States, which gives permission to detain those who may be a threat to national security, who are then detained, often preemptively, judged by the tribunal that disregards constitutional rights of these "criminals," and given a choice between hard time in prison for years or hard time in punishment park for three days. Guess which one is worse? Still, everyone picks punishment park where they are forced to run through the desert in intolerable heat (or cold, at night), without water, toward a destination designated by the American flag. The purpose of the punishment park is to - well, punish - and train the law enforcement officers to deal with dissidents en masse.

The whole thing is so realistically done, including the lack of script for the tribunal scenes, where the actors on both sides of the fence spoke their own invented lines based on their own life experiences, that I had to take another few minutes to remind myself that we don't have punishment parks in America. According to the director's commentary, Danish media was convinced otherwise and protested punishment parks based on this movie, then was forced to retract their protest realizing belatedly the movie was fictional.

It's a visceral picture. There is more than one reason why it had been practically banned (or simply denied distribution) for decades: not only is it pointing fingers at just about every establishment, but it is also difficult d/t the violence and lack of humanity displayed on the screen.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Tommy Dooley TOP 500 REVIEWER on April 25, 2014
Format: Amazon Instant Video
Made in 1970 by the exceptional British film maker Peter Watkins, this is a film with a punch that has lost none of its impact after more than forty years. It was set at a time when the Vietnam War was slowly going very badly wrong, America had seen the drafting of its young men, the Kent State shootings and political polarisation that moved a generation to take up politics as a force for real change.

Watkins used all of these elements and more as a vehicle for this work. He used the McCarran Internal Security Act of 1950 which allowed for emergency powers to be used by a President in a time of war without recourse to Congress. This meant that undesirables could be held in detention with scant regard to the rule of law if they posed `a risk to internal security'. In the film we see young people being shackled and taken to a tribunal - of sorts. What is to all intents and purposes a kangaroo court then passes indeterminate sentences like 10 to 15 years, on all of them for acts against America etc. They are then given the choice to serve the term in a Federal Prison or do 3 days at Punishment Park.

They all go for the Park. Here they have to travel through the desert to an American flag being `pursued' by National Guards and Police - if caught they go to prison if they make the flag they are `free'.

Well the film uses docudrama techniques and the film crew interview both hunter and hunted and depicts how attitudes change and harden over the course of the hunt. We also have the ongoing court case of the next batch and that is equally as powerful. This was all done using amateurs and a lot of improvisation as people felt so aligned to what they were doing that they felt well able to take the arguments on by themselves.
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