In keeping with my recent posts about the 1960′s and the San Francisco Diggers in particular, I wanted to finish off with the last chapter in their story. After bringing their brand of world-remaking to the Haight, the Digggers joined with a number of other groups to drop out in a big way. Together, they formed the Free Family. The group left the cities and started a number of communal-living groups in Northern California and the Southwest.
The triumphs and tragedies of this experiment are documented by the folks who were really there in Jonathan Berman’s 2005 documentary Commune.
Here’s what the Wiki has to say about the film’s critical reception:
Maitland McDonagh of TV Guide pronounced it “A close examination of a quintessential ’60s phenomenon that speaks volumes about the attitudes and experiences that shaped the decade…captivating. Andrew O’Hehir of Salon.com said “Amid the dozens of documentaries made about various aspects of ’60s society and culture, “Commune” stands out for its ambiguity, honesty and sheer human clarity…an extraordinary collage.”
A New York Times review, titled “Just a Hardy Bunch of Settlers Who Left America and Moved to California”, described the commune veterans: “However weatherbeaten they appear, they still have a light in their eyes, and they exude the hardy spirit of pioneers who are older and wiser but unbowed,” adding that they look back with “pride, amusement, and sadness.”
A must-see for anyone interested in the 1960′s counter-culture, Commune is also one part inspiring adventure and one part cautionary tale for anyone who thinks the world could live together better if we all learned to live together.