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C.S.A.: The Confederate States Of America (2004)

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Overall Rating 64%
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Ranked #4,155
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Through the eyes of a British "documentary", this film takes a satirically humorous, and sometimes frightening, look at the history of an America where the South won the Civil War. --IMDb
Greg Kirsch
Greg Kirsch
Renee Patrick
Renee Patrick
Molly Graham
Molly Graham
William Willmott
William Willmott
Rupert Pate
Rupert Pate
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Review by Chad
Added: August 21, 2006
What if the South had won the war? That's the question that tonight's mockumentary poses, and it shows a history of the "Confederate States of America" played out in the form of a History Channel documentary (complete with commercial breaks). In this alternate reality, slavery is legal and owning a slave or two is about as common as owning a television set; in fact, if you do own a television set, you can purchase your slaves through the Home Shopping Network. Abraham Lincoln was never assassinated, but instead, he was deported to Canada after the war, where he died a forgotten old man. America sided with Adolf Hitler and even suggested putting the Jews to work as slaves instead of killing them ("why murder perfectly good livestock?"), Pearl Harbor never happened (we sneak-attacked Japan instead), and a presidential election is decided by one of the candidates possibly having a black great-grandfather. Indeed, it's a very different reality, but sadly, it's more interesting on paper than it is on the screen.

The problem, in my view, is that the documentary attempts to raise valid points about the way things could have been and even how they actually are today, but at the same time, it attempts to draw some laughs from the audience. Sure, the material found here is far from politically correct and I have to admit that I probably would have held in the laughter had I been watching this with some black friends, but watching a couple of cowboys pitching a brand of cigarettes known as "Niggerhairs" is something so absurd that you can't help but chuckle. Yes, the commercials found within stay in the spirit of the documentary, but we learn towards the end of the feature that these products actually existed at one point in America's history. Mixing humor and intelligent thoughts together isn't a bad thing in and of itself, but the way it's handled in this film is definitely flawed.

You see, the film manages to raise some interesting points, but this aspect of the film requires the viewer to throw a lot of logic out the window. I understand that this is an alternate reality, but there are some "facts" here that are just downright illogical, and that kills off the "Wow, this could have really happened" factor that the director was going for. Also, the "history" lessons found here are a little too heavy on the "history" of the country; instead of focusing on a wide variety of topics that could have happened over the course of time between the Civil War and the present, the grand majority of the film focuses on politics and the rebuilding that the South did immediately following said war. While I wouldn't have cut all of this out, I would have liked to have seen a little more focus on other items, especially modern-day America. There is a bit of coverage of the sixties onwards, but these items are merely glossed over; if you blink, you may very well miss it.

The humor of the film fails in much the same way. These commercials are funny the first few times, but it quickly turns from comedy to tedious thanks to the repeated usage of this concept. Watching two or three of the best commercials would have been fine; watching ten or twelve of them that range from hilarious to "eh, who cares" was pushing things a wee bit too far. Again, I understand what director Kevin Willmott was going for here, but moderation and a better variety would have helped things out considerably.

Overall, it's an interesting concept and I can't say that it completely failed, but I felt that Willmott could have done so much more with the idea. On paper, it sounds like a year-end top-ten candidate; after seeing what was actually offered throughout the ninety minute film, I'll probably have forgotten all about it by this time next week. 5/10.
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