Reviews: CSA The Confederate States Of America
Putrid and offensive
As a historian and an avid reader of alternate history, I had high hopes for this film. Instead I was screaming at the TV in five minutes. 99% extreme distortions if not blatant lies, and the remaining 1% a dozen cherry picked racially charged advertisements from the late 19th/early 20th centuries (the only truth in the entire film, and still taken completely out of context). The writer/director revels in a total ignorance of history, economics, politics, the Constitution, international diplomacy, military matters, sociology, and probably a few more disciplines I'm forgetting. As an example, he does not fail to have his EVIL white Confederates enslave all Native Americans, which the audience has to assume includes the tribes who voluntarily joined and fought for the Confederacy; I'm sure this is totally unrelated to the next movie he made about how all white people are the Devil being about the oppression of Native Americans... This is definitely a contender for Worst Movie I Have Ever Sat Through, and certainly one of the most painful. Mr. Wilmott's anti-Semitism and anti-white prejudice make this wholly unpalatable, and its absence of any grounding in reality make it impossible to take seriously. It was declared ex post facto to have been a satire in an attempt to weasel around its critical failures, as if that makes it okay, despite how it was (and still is) presented.
Mostly just boring
Honestly, we can go on about historical accuracy or whathaveyou, but this film's worst crime is just generally kind of dull. It so perfectly recreates the sort of banal, Ken Burns-wannabe documentary style that I saw so often in school that I want to fall asleep just watching it. They are really, seriously, devoted to the bit, and the effects used to make pieces of film look dated or grainy works wonderfully. I'd almost admire the craftsmanship of it if they didn't so completely fail to do anything interesting with the form. It's not a parody, it's a spot-on recreation that happens to be about a ludicrous topic. The narrative they use it to build isn't particularly compelling, either. After the dozenth warping of history to get across the "Southern people are backwards racist yokels" idea it's hard not to get the point and wonder if the film has anything more to say. And it does—if you stick around to the end, you'll find out that politicians are hypocrites. Shock. There's no nuance here, no higher aspiration than dropping anvils and appropriating styles. Hell, the jokes aren't even funny. There is absolutely nothing even remotely engaging here, save for a quick bit at the end where we find out that the racist advertisements are for real products still being sold today. Perhaps they should've made a documentary about that if they wanted to use this style so badly. At least then this thing would have a decent shot at being compelling.
I mainly watch it for catharsis.
This movie shows us an alternate history where the Confederacy won the American Civil War, grew in power, and became one of the largest and most oppressive empires on Earth. It's an interesting look at life in the CSA, and it shows us how it's affected all of the people in that country. I really don't care that the film isn't really historically accurate and whatnot. It may seem weird for me to say this, but I watch this film for the catharsis factor. The reason I say that is because with America being full of right-wing nut-jobs, the Tea Party movement ongoing to this day, and so-called "religious" people who are downright bigoted, I find solace in that this country could have been much worse off had it been portrayed in the way it was in this film. I watch this movie and am thankful that we don't live in the same America that's shows in "CSA."
Needs a sequel
An interesting attempt of presenting a snapshot image of an alternate America that had become progressively oppressive following the Northern States losing the Civil War, leading up to the present-day time of the turn of the millennium. One could only wonder what would become of the C.S.A. past the point where this mockumentary ended, with supplementary materials suggesting that they were now ready to conquer the Middle East.
Interesting, but kind of ridiculous
This film clearly cares more about grinding its own political ax than seriously examining what would have happened if the South had won. Thus, I believe the film should be judged as the political satire it's intended to be rather than as a serious attempt at Alternate History. The narrative starts off as interesting, if unlikely, but then it begins getting silly. The C.S.A. forces the northern states to adopt slavery, makes Christianity the state religion, perpetrates an imperialistic conquest of Central and South America, befriends Hitler, and denies women the vote. At a certain point, the C.S.A. starts to seem like it's evil for the sake of being evil. Yes, I know they had A Point to make, but there's a line between caricature and cartoonish villainy. Still, it's an interesting project and the Retraux bits and the Parody Commercials are great touches which help build a sense that this parallel world could be real. The film did leave me feeling kind of disturbed, which I think was the intent, so I guess it's ultimately a success.