Just a Hardy Bunch of Settlers Who Left America and Moved to California (Documentary)

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“Commune,” a breezy, informal history of the Black Bear Ranch, a long-running California commune begun in the summer of 1968 and still in existence, offers the fascinating spectacle of observing people then and now.

This loose-jointed collection of reminiscences by several dozen people who lived on the ranch — hippies and political idealists who “moved there to get away from America,” as one original member puts it — is crammed with pictures and old home movies. Juxtaposed with the vintage material are interviews with the same people today.

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. As they look back with pride, amusement and sadness, it is obvious that their experiences on the ranch profoundly shaped their lives. (Occupied today by a handful of younger people, the ranch is now a land trust owned communally by everyone who has spent a winter there.)

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