1871

McMullen's film about the Paris Commune offers a stirring rendition of the 'Internationale' sung, at a moment of seeming defeat, by the actors in Ramborde's Theatre in Paris, as reactionary government forces close in to remove, as it were, the masses from the stage of history. McMullen depicts the events of those heady days - from the assassination of Emperor Maximilian of Mexico in 1867, through the crazy Franco-Prussian war, to the crushing of the communards - as a farcical theatrical event, taking his cue, no doubt, from Marx's famous remarks about how history repeats itself (his words themselves repeated imperiously by a black Marx played by director Med Hondo). In and out of Ramborde's Theatre or the nearby Café Anglais, a gallery of historical cut-outs impersonates the various mighty forces at work in society. It's a grand, ambitious, three-act, sub-Brechtian affair, which exhibits the McMullen trademarks: a painterly eye, an unashamed taste for Big Ideas and allusive puns, and a tendency to lapse into obscurity and pretentiousness.

Release details

Duration: 100 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Ken McMullen
Screenwriter: Terry James, James Leahy, Ken McMullen
Cast: Roshan Seth
John Lynch
Timothy Spall
Alexandre de Sousa
Maria de Medeiros
Ian McNeice
Ana Padrao
Jack Klaff
Dominique Pinon
Med Hondo
Lutz Becker
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