C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America Movie Review
What if the South won the Civil War? What if slavery wasn't abolished in 1865? How would America be today?
"C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America" is the BBC documentary that explores the history of this unique nation. Of course, the film isn't made by BBC, nor is it a documentary, but director Kevin Willmott takes an intriguing look at what could have been.
Following the surrender of Union forces in the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln becomes a war fugitive and goes on the run, taking refuge in the underground railroad with the help of federal criminal Harriet Tubman. As the years go on, the North becomes weaker and weaker as the South and eventually the rest of the country take advantage of slavery. While once-freed slaves are returned to their white owners, Chinese are forced into servitude on the west coast. Eighty years later, the United States officially sides with Hitler's view of an Aryan nation, though suggests he use the Jews as slaves rather than inflict the alternative. Of course, eventually, slavery runs its course, but now its fate lies in a political battle in modern day, not a 150-year old war.
Willmott has created an entertaining little piece of work here; aside from some low-budget moments, if you were to sit down and watch this on television (and had absolutely no knowledge of United States history whatsoever), you might just fall for it. His use of photographs, stock footage and impersonations are great, and he never wavers from his imitation of a true documentary.
The highlights of the film are the commercials, which are usually promoting products with some kind of racial slant to it. What if slavery had never gone out of style? Wouldn't we still have products that played on racially-motivated names? Don't we still anyway?
The movie only suffers when the budget rears its ugly head. For the most part, the film looks fine, but there are a few parts, generally in mock reenactments or fake archive footage, where it loses its appearance of realism. The cheap actors and even cheaper sets are sort of funny in a cheesy kind of way, but the scenes would have been much more effective had Willmot had a budget to make these look as though they were real, and from the appropriate era.
KKK members and Aryan brothers may find this film insightful because they're too stupid to realize it's not real, but the general moviegoer (a.k.a. the ones who are happy the South didn't win - wait, who controls the White House right now?) will find it entertaining for other purposes. Smart, witty and funny from beginning to end, "C.S.A." is a fun mockumentary that works on most levels. Recommended.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.