Aroview: Extraordinary, 'fictionalised' docu-drama from the unique and largely unheralded talent of British director Peter Watkins, portraying the internment of subversive youths during a turbulent 'Nixon-esque' era, who are tried and condemned to 'Punishment Park' - a 25 mile trek through the California desert on the run from armed law enforcement personnel.
Inspired by a true incident in which student protesters were murdered on a University campus, this integrates real-life ideologies and characters (using a large cast of mostly non-actors) into a fictionalised setting, essaying the bitter divide between liberal and conservative cultures and blurring the line between drama, documentary and science fiction to potent effect.
Proving too close to the bone during the incendiary political climate of the time, the film was marginalized by nervous distributors and sank without trace. Now it can now be fully appreciated as a work of tremendous innovation, passion and courage that pre-dates the improvised indie and mock-documentary film movement by decades, with its implications perhaps even graver in the post 9/11 era. Essential viewing.