Sunday, August 13, 2006

The Confederate States of America: Grade B


The Confederate States of America

Kevin Willmott, writer and director

This satire of American history and social attitudes examines the idea: what if the South had won the Civil War? The movie is presented as a television show on American history since the “War of Northern Aggression”, complete with commercials, and using close up shots of expert historians giving sound bites, Ken Burns’ tinkling pianos over still photos, and actual archival historical footage.

The South won, slavery was imposed nationwide for economic and cultural reasons, Lincoln was exiled to “Red Canada.” The idea is fun, well-researched, and there are some ironically funny surprises, but it all becomes routine after 20 minutes. The commercials are the best part, for genuine American products like Darkie Toothpaste. Clearly a work from the heart, it has a genuine message about racism in America, but the movie takes the TV show joke too seriously, and that’s what keeps it from perfection. It needed more goofiness like the scene of Lincoln in blackface escaping to Canada with Harriet Tubman. It will be valuable in the college classroom.

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