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Commune (2005)

Only available in United States

In 1968, two hippies hiking near Mt. Shasta in Northern California stumbled across an unlikely property for sale: an abandoned goldmine and surrounding land, 80 acres for $22,000. Fueled by contributions from the Doors, the Monkees, Frank Zappa and others, they bought the property and named it Black Bear Ranch. It quickly became the prototypical 1960s commune, with the motto “Free Land for Free People.”

Utopian communities have always been a part of the United States, but in the 60s and 70s their audacious goal was to reshape the world with free love and common property – creating a revolutionary movement that would spread to the rest of society. But utopia is different for each person, and these experiments often brought strife, jealousy and sometimes even endangered lives.

Featuring interviews with several Black Bear alumni, including actor/activist Peter Coyote, alongside a wealth of photographs and home movies, this acclaimed documentary offers a candid look into the joys and difficulties of free love, nude farming, survival in the wilderness, multiple-parent childrearing and other fascinating aspects of communal living.

[Editor’s note: The residents of Black Bear Ranch spent a good amount of time without wearing any clothes, which fact is well represented in the historical footage in this documentary. In other words, there is quite a bit of nudity in this film, although none of it is lascivious.]

Jonathan Berman

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joanlulich, posted on June 1, 2016

I grew up in Siskiyou County. Big Sky Properties was in Ft. Jones. My dad worked for the Soil Conservation Service and did work with the commune. He is a conservative Christian man who was shocked by the nudity. I knew Mel Kramer and others who are just like him. I enjoyed this documentary.

alijoy, posted on September 29, 2015

only showing in the USA ? too bad !

silvio6, posted on September 6, 2016

You will find it in youtube

Iadora, posted on June 13, 2015

i absolutely LOVED this movie! It felt so Natural and Authentic that I now feel like part of that Organically Evolving Community!

I especially loved the honesty about the naïveté with which it all evolved! Got a BIG kick out of learning the drug enforcement officials had dig up the tomato plants and confiscated them as "POT" plants!! SO POETIC That BOTH the rebels and enforcement were comparably disorganized and ignorant! I'm so so so glad our pioneers were not intimidated by ANYONE!

Hoping to be able to watch it again n again! I Just LOVE ALL Those SILLY people!!!

THANK YOU SO for making and sharing this movie!!!

Love, Iadora U!!!

LINDAB8, posted on May 13, 2014

This is a wonderful vignette of a noteworthy time in our American history. I thoroughly enjoyed watching it and believe they did a great job putting together disparate scenes into a cohesive picture of the era, the people, and the family units which made up - perhaps - a representative sample of a 60s - 70s commune. It brings to my mind the phrase, "a road less traveled" and some envy that I didn't participate in that sort of freedom of spirit - instead of joining the typical mainstream. Thank you Spiritual Cinema Circle and GAIAM TV for giving us these wonderful documentaries, movies, and series which enrich our lives!

chiyuhealingarts, posted on March 3, 2014

My apology. This is not the documentary I thought it was and so I am removing my review.

beccanova, posted on February 21, 2014

I wish to thank everyone who lived at Black Bear, those shown in this movie, those who have created this film, and those would have distributed this documentary. I appreciate the candid boldness and openness of the Black Bear community to share their truth, reveal their personal growth, their personal life changes both during and following their time living in the commune, the joys and fears, successes and failures, their willingness to express how the communal experience has molded or changed them, how many of them continue to use their skills learned during the communal experiences, and how those skills have become an important part of their present day attitudes and lives while living and integrating back into society. Their continued group meetings, memorials, health and human services through community outreach programs established by the various former commune members shows their integrity for living peacefully in society by helping one another, and elevating human consciousness through love and service. May their progressive community work continue to influence and serve the city populations around California where they’ve chosen to settle and work within these various programs, and become useful models for other states and cities throughout the nation in the critical economic and reformation years to come.

It’s consoling to know the Black Bear commune has been protected by a Trust that allows the property to remain a free land area for communal living on into the future where new and old communal members can continue to develop an alternative lifestyle without restrictions imposed on them by the government.

Since the location of the Black Bear commune is in the California forested mountain foothills, I pray that the serious drought conditions that are now threatening the entire state of California and the western regions of the US will not destroy what has been created in this near idyllic location. Land without water will not grow anything, and it’s something the western population and the nation must now face with the recent climate changes. The rural mountain areas are threatened by increasing numbers of forest fires as trees become dryer, and loose internal moisture and ground water, and farms across the state are being shut down because of a lack of water already due to the driest drought years ever recorded. Black Bear has been like a utopia style learning place during the past decades during suitable weather sustainable years, let’s all hope it will remain so.

Andge3, posted on February 21, 2014

I have always been curious about communes and this documentary was very interesting! I enjoyed it, it was definitely very insightful.

framptongirl, posted on February 21, 2014

I also lived in a commune in northern British Columbia from age 13 to age 21. There was no free love, but I have never regretted the simplicity, the down to earth skills I learned and the beauty of the remote wilderness in the Rocky Mountains. I have returned to a simple lifestyle and am raising my own garden, goats, chickens, pigs, etc. While not in a commune, I am trying to learn what true love is.

etheart1168, posted on February 21, 2014

That was REALLY interesting!! I'm glad I watched it.

GratefullyRich, posted on February 15, 2014

First off...I want to thank all those who participated in this documentary, and allowed us this view into a very personal part of their lives. At one point Peter Coyote states "that people didn't realize how close to the edge of the crucible of change our society was really at"...I couldn't agree more. There was an idea born and nurtured during that period, an idea that threatened the status quo. The dream/idea was intentionally misrepresented by the mainstream press (as many counter cultural ideas are to this present day)...The dreams and ideas of the 60's were rapidly becoming the life's blood of the youth of the day, and could not be easily silenced...the "systems" which depended upon society's unquestioning allegiance were they had to take drastic measures to protect their bases of power and influence. Hence the silencing of a dream...John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Robert Kennedy (all sadly taken from us within a very short period of time). Imagine the world we would live in today had they not been silenced...I weep when I think about it, but I am encouraged when I remember a voice can be silenced...but you can't silence a dream, and more and more of us are waking from the slumber each day. LOVE was the dream then...and is the dream now. Love...not of country, but of everything...everyone...everywhere. Mother Earth is OUR home during this embodiment. If I feast while my neighbor starves...then my soul starves too! Because we must each remember that my neighbor is me...and I am him...Namaste

pajames111, posted on February 21, 2014

Wonderfully stated, GratefullyRich! At the time this commune started, I was a child myself. But, I was well aware of the huge tensions of coming change within the culture at the time. even as a youth. I could feel a change happening, represented by folks like these, that immediately attracted me to it. This group of individuals had the courage at that time to follow their convictions into the wilderness and create an alternative, and even though it was far from perfect, it still inspires those of current day who understand the desire for a life of connection with others based on something deeper than status and class and other forms of superficial judgement, and a re-connection the rhythms of the earth and nature.

The dream and the movement that started back then, and which were, in my opinion, an attempt to re-create something more ancient and basic about human life, are still living and breathing to this dray. Under the surface of a culture, that is still out of balance with the human heart, there is a growing awareness of our oneness. I can feel it, can you?

The next stage, I believe, will take us much further along that path back to authenticity. A true re-awakening of the human spirit will come in its own time, but I feel the time is quickening. Hang on to your hats for the next stage, it'll be a doozy!

denmar2, posted on February 10, 2014

I really enjoyed this. I would have never guessed Peter Coyote and Michael Tierra lived here. In a way, they seem mainstream because they are well known by everyone, but they did follow their passions. Peter Coyote activist and actor, Michael world renowned herbalist and educator.

mickialbert, posted on February 7, 2014

Great movie. Feels like we got an honest look at communal living in America.... so not my cup of tea!

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