People Fever, On the Popular Passions of Peter Watkins' La Commune (Paris 1871)

Ramos Martinez, Manuel. 2016. People Fever, On the Popular Passions of Peter Watkins' La Commune (Paris 1871). Screen, 57(2), pp. 197-217. ISSN 0036-9543 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

In this essay I argue that the term ‘people’ has aroused inventive passions in the militant image. I focus my analysis on La Commune (Paris, 1871) by Peter Watkins, a television film that has laid claim to a popular pedigree of sorts. This is a copious film that allows the analysis to approach and interrogate the popular passion of the image and some of its variants. I investigate two main aspects of this case. Firstly, I analyze Watkins’s conception of television as a public service, a conception close to the idea of third television, and its troubled practice in the making of La Commune (Paris, 1871) . Secondly, I focus on what I consider to be the most generative element of the film itself, its attempt to present a collective voice, a ‘voice of the people’. I argue, with the help of Félix Guattari’s critique and proposals for a democratic communication system, that the voices of the film are best listened to as part of a media struggle for collective enunciation.

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Visual Cultures


15 February 2016Accepted
July 2016Published

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Date Deposited:

13 Jan 2017 10:47

Last Modified:

02 Jul 2018 01:26

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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