Following France’s defeat in the Franco-Prussian War 150 years ago, the starving population of Paris rose up in rebellion. The government fled to Versailles and the people elected a radical leftist government that called itself the Commune. Two months later, troops loyal to the government extinguished the revolution with rivers of blood. Thirty thousand men, women, and children were murdered.
This gripping documentary reconstruction consciously uses the anachronistic medium of broadcast television to present the revolutionary events. National TV Versailles supports the old regime, while Commune TV supports the revolution. This serves to underscore the fact that news is always biased.
The film itself takes the side of the revolutionaries, presenting the crushing of the Commune as the logical outcome in a repressive capitalist and nationalist system that’s committing similar atrocities in its colonies. But this black-and-white film doesn’t shy away from internal tensions, with women still expected to “know their place” in revolutionary Paris. The film came about after intensive group discussions with the cast, and this comes through in their passionate and convincing performances.