Americans living in the 21st century face the unforeseen problem of always being connected to society. The present dependency many have on the omnipresence of technology and infrastructure has caused skepticism in the church of public opinion. But way before the transgressions of mass surveillance, there was a movement fostered by the hippie subculture that sought solace and survival through seclusion and self-reliance, with one of the largest communes being right here in Tennessee. The children of this commune, known as “The Farm,” have now become adults who are looking to put the past together and understand just where things went wrong in their little piece of paradise.
American Commune is a look into those who survived the struggles inside the subsistence farming community that once enjoyed a fruitful harvest but is now simply a memory. We follow the accounts of those who remember the movement to unplug from the Volunteer State and choose to live a life that made them an easy target for adversaries of alternate lifestyles.
This is a great concept for a documentary that chooses to frame accounts of unique people who would not have otherwise been immortalized. My problem is with the lack of digging. We’re offered what starts out as a harmless look through a photo album, taking a decent chunk of time to get to the parts where the conflicts begin, which is unfortunately midway through. When things go sour, when we’re finally treated to the tour of an abandoned dream, we’re not given much. These people start out with good hearts, good plans, and all the things necessary to create a utopia, and are denied their dream because of external meddling. Your anger should be at a full boil by the time you get to the credits, learning that children were allowed to fall below the poverty line due to sabotage.
It’s an interesting enough account to warrant a view, but lacks comparison accounts of other similar social experiments or validation from third-party sources.