The Gladiators (1969, Peter Watkins)

Cerebral, kinda unengaging movie. Interestingly done though. Allegorial, with each person representing a country or type. Seemed like a total bust for a while there, but as I was getting disappointed I asked myself “why is the movie doing this?” and figured out the allegory. A message movie then, the message being that there’s only one System that all countries and governments (even the neutrals) help perpetuate. I wasn’t as impressed with the combat scenes as everyone in the reviews and commentary was – more interested in the politics of the thing. As a political statement, it’s pretty wonderful. Probably needs another viewing sometime. Katy was cool on it but “didn’t hate it”.

Also on the disc was Diary of an Unknown Soldier, apparently the first short Watkins made that he still likes. The last day of a soldier’s life before being sent to the front, so another war commentary, told all in narration. I like Watkins’ style – it’s not like anything else I’ve been watching. Which makes me wonder why I haven’t sat down with Punishment Park yet. Seems like all of his stuff should be worth seeing.


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