Review: ‘Punishment Park’

Like the same director's The War Game, this pic apparently is set in the indeterminate future. It is presented in the guise of a live TV documentary complete with camera jerks, microphones and lights in full view.

Like the same director’s The War Game, this pic apparently is set in the indeterminate future. It is presented in the guise of a live TV documentary complete with camera jerks, microphones and lights in full view.

Escalation of Asian wars is pre-supposed with intensified tensions between the larger international powers and the increase of anti-war propaganda and demonstrations of draft evaders.

Those youthful rebels coming before tribunals on conscientious and other grounds are given the choice of serving penal sentences or a three-days endurance test in Punishment Park, situated in Southern California.

The rules are that ‘corrective groups’ are given three days to reach, on foot, an American flag 57 miles away. They are allowed two to three hours’ start, after which the National Guard hounds them out. If they manage to reach the flag in the alloted time they will be given their freedom. The journey they have to traverse is over desert territory in temperatures rising above the 100-degree mark by day and cold by night.

The pic deftly switches back and forth from the members of one such corrective group, the armed forces and seven different offenders being tried by a quasi-judicial tribunal.

Punishment Park

Production

Francoise. Director Peter Watkins; Screenplay Peter Watkins; Camera Joan Churchill; Editor Peter Watkins; Music Paul Motian

Crew

(Color) Extract of a review from 1971. Running time: 88 MIN.

With

Paul Alelyanes Carmen Argenziano Stan Armsted Harold Beaulieu Jim Bohan Kerry Cannon
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