[color=darkblue][size=14]The North has always been rather gracious about the Civil War, allowing the South to propound its romantic myths without correction. In the interests of national unity, this was probably for the best, but every so often a reality check, even in the form of fantasy, becomes necessary. "CSA" is ultimately not just amusing but moving because it reminds us that the Civil War was not some sectional disagreement or an argument between two equally worthy points of view, but rather a struggle for the country's moral decency and the future of democracy.[/size][/color]
quote:[size=18]Review: Confederate States of America[/size]
An extended gag about the South having won the Civil War and made the nation into a sanctuary of slavery and race "purity," "The Confederate States of America" has only grown more provocative since its premiere at Sundance two festivals ago. In those two years, what seemed like one filmmaker's sardonic vision of what might have happened now seems to capture what a lot of people seem to wish had happened. And which may, depending on your point of view, be happening.
Point of view is the fulcrum of Kevin Willmott's movie, and slavery is its ballast. In "CSA's" movie-within-a-movie, a supposed TV documentary made by the British - because it would never be made here - charts the nightmare history of a nation whose economy is based on oppression, expansionism and a conscience-salving philosophy of racial/ethnic superiority. Intermittently, commercials extolling the virtues of Darky toothpaste and any number of staggeringly racist products that were (and are) real, interrupt the broadcast. So does a Home Shopping Network deal on slaves and a PSA warning about black people FedExing themselves to freedom. ("Look for air holes.")
Done largely in tongue-in-cheek Ken Burns style, the "documentary" deadpans through the execution of Harriet Tubman, and the exile to Canada of Abraham Lincoln (on whom Willmott is particularly, and unjustifiably, hard). Each episode in actual U.S. history is tweaked into a satirical parody of what didn't happen and might have: Hitler, for instance, visits New York pre-World War II and is almost convinced by John Ambrose Fauntroy (a kind of perverse Kennedy whose dynastic family has carried the curse of Southern supremacy down from the Civil War) into canceling the Final Solution. Americans, we are told, have a moral objection to wasting human life when it can so easily be used as cheap labor.
Offensive? Yes, and creatively so. Willmott is obviously out to provoke, but not just in terms of ripping a scab off the racism that has infected America since its birth, but suggesting how it tends to inform present day life as well. He may take things to an extreme, but exaggeration doesn't necessary nullify the core truth of what he's chasing.
[color=black] [size=14] -- Described by critics as a mind-bending mockumentary...[/size] [/color]
The movie's website: (movie made with help from Spike Lee)
- All that aside, your thoughts or answer to the question:
[size=14]What if the South had won?[/size]