Punishment Park (1971, Peter Watkins)

In The Future, political dissidents in the USA are given a choice between long jail sentences or four days at “punishment park”, a desert training ground for law enforcement officials. If they can reach a target before the cops catch them, they’re free… if caught, they go to jail anyway.

Movie has two settings… one group at punishment park, and the tribunal for the next group to be sent… flips back and forth between them. The group in “court” (a tent with card tables) is modeled on Abbie Hoffman and the Chicago Seven, with one member ending up bound and gagged. Someone in the group at the park manages to kill a guard, and after that, it’s vengeance time… the whole group is gunned down as they are caught, with the camera crew first standing by, then trying ineffectively to help.

Punishment Park

Not as interesting as The Gladiators, I think, but a lot more straightforward. Can’t decide if I really liked it. Covers a lot of facets of 60’s radicalism, the straight world’s reaction to it, and the direction the country was going politically. Useful as an alternate-history lesson, maybe.