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Monday, April 09, 2007

We all just assumed we were there for the same reason

I meant to add this film to my previous post: Commune. It's a documentary about a California commune. The showing I went to was supposed to be attended by the director, but he didn't show. The producer was there though, but I'm not sure why. He didn't have much to say nor did he seem very knowledgeable or intersted.

The film was fascinating despite the ineptitude of the director. It was like the director was afraid to ask important and difficult questions or follow up on story leads. People said things, fantastic lead-ins, that weren't persued. Basic questions, like, "How long did you live at the commune?", or "Why did you leave?" went unasked. A couple of the children, now adults, were intereviewed, but no real sense of how the experience affected them was investigated. It was one missed opportunity after another.

Even the camera work was sometimes bad -- in one case, a woman was so poorly lit that I cringed (think flashlight under the chin).

And still I recommend it. Because listening to the people who lived the lifestyle, who bucked societal norms and did something about it, is inherently interesting. Even when the questions weren't asked and storylines began then slammed into closed doors, the filmmakers couldn't blunt the power of individual recollections of time and place. As each person talked about their experiences and memories, I began to suspect that maybe this wasn't about peace and freedom and political change, but simple about being young and wanting easy access to sex and drugs. Of course, I could be wrong. But that's my impression, as the filmmakers didn't make a point of asking why they chose the commune, though one guy was asked why another guy came and he said, "I don't know. We never talked about it. We all just assumed we were there for the same reason." Equal parts frustration and fascination. Recommended.

2 comments:

Kate S said...

Interesting. I once dated a man who was part of a commune. In fact, he still is.

Clifford said...

Wow, that's pretty amazing. I have a friend who grew up on one, but my hunch was that after a few years the experiment ultimately fails.

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