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Celluloid Sunday: 1871 on 35mm
Institute of Contemporary Arts
A French soldier on a horse looks down at people gathering in front of his horse. A gun points through half the image
1871, dir. Ken McMullen, United Kingdom 1990, 100 min, English, 15

Paris 1867. Séverine is the queen of the city. She seduces through her musical numbers on a popular music hall stage. She is loved by an Irish revolutionary and an English spy. As the Franco-Prussian war rumbles and the people of Paris form the revolutionary Commune, Séverine’s violent passions rise alongside her political awareness.

McMullen’s painterly treatment of the Paris Commune recounts the events of those heady days – from the assassination of Emperor Maximilian of Mexico in 1867, through the Franco-Prussian War, to the crushing of the communards – in a theatrical manner. The film was selected for the Un Certain Regard section of the 1990 Cannes festival.

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