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CSA: The Confederate States of America

1 rating: 3.0
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Genre: Comedy
Release Date: October 7, 2005
MPAA Rating: PG-13
1 review about CSA: The Confederate States of America

What If the South Never Fell and Just Kept on Rising?

  • Oct 22, 2010
Rating:
+3
C.S.A. is a movie that examines what life might have been like if the Confederacy would have won the American Civil War. The film begins with a commercial about insurance. It is one of many faux television advertisements scattered throughout the picture. After the insurance commercial, there is a warning that the following film might offend some people. Then the actual "broadcast" presentation of C.S.A. begins. In the world of the film, the South wins Gettysburg and because of that Judah P. Benjamin successfully convinces not only England, but also France that the real issue of the war isn't slavery, but states' rights and they join the Rebel grey on the battlefield. The Union had more than enough troops to outfight the Confederacy alone, but not enough to fight the armies of two other countries. Lee marches on Washington, D.C. and other Confederate generals pillage and burn Boston and New York. Meanwhile, President Lincoln is forced to flee, but is caught with Harriet Tubman just south of the Canadian border disguised in blackface. Tubman is hanged and Lincoln is imprisoned for two years at Fortress Monroe. Upon his release Lincoln moves to Canada and lives out his life there. Emboldened by their victory the Confederacy begins a different form of Reconstruction, offering to rebuild the destroyed Northern cities with "free" slave labor. There are rebellions here and there, but they are quickly put down and those who dissent are executed. A huge number of abolitionists, scholars, and religious leaders leave the Confederacy for Canada. Western expansion is continued and the Native Indians are either exterminated or forced to flee to Canada, too. There are no Indian reservations in this alternative timeline. Chinese workers in the west are made slaves, too. Emboldened by their successes, the Confederacy sets it sights on a world empire and begins a war into Central and then South America. The expansion succeeds, though at a great cost, and by the early part of the 20th Century all of South America is a part of the Confederate States of America. The Confederacy stays out of the European field of WWII, but fights alone against Japan. Seeking to slay the dragon before it can strike, the C.S.A. attacks Japan. The war is long and bloody, but the development of the atomic bomb brings the surrender of the Japanese empire. The 1950s bring a time of peace and prosperity to the nation-empire, but the 1960s bring distress. John F. Kennedy defeats Richard Nixon for the Presidency and his election brings the hope for woman's suffrage and the emancipation of the slaves. However, all such hopes are dashed when Kennedy is assassinated. The threat of "terrorists" from Canada and the bleeding of Canadian culture into the fabric of Confederate society forces the Confederate to build a huge concrete wall across the Canadian/C.S.A. border that is nicknamed the Cotton Curtain.

There are some that will have a problem with the fake history presented in C.S.A. For instance, the South didn't seem to have any plans to annex the Northern states. They just wanted to win the war and be left alone. Yet, if the Confederacy had won a major battle like Gettysburg and been joined by the British and French their plans could have changed. The Union would never be okay with the South seceding. Another war further in the future would probably have been inevitable.

The probabilities and what-ifs of history aside, C.S.A. is an ambitious film, and though it suffers from a miniscule budget there are moments when the movie really shines. For instance, many of the television commercials shown throughout the "broadcast presentation" are brilliant in their execution, such as the commercial for a COPS parody called RUNAWAY and an animated commercial featuring the Gold Dust Twins. Some of these ads remind me of skits from CHAPELLE'S SHOW. These ads take on more significance when one discovers at the end of the movie that most of them are about products that actual existed or are still in existence.

There are also a couple of movie recreations that are done particularly well. A silent film by D.W. Griffith about the capture of Abraham Lincoln is one example. This film within a film captures the essence of many silent films of the era, extended gestures, overemphasized facial features, and all. Another example is the movie I MARRIED AN ABOLITIONIST that captures the feel of 1950s sci-fi movies, such as INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS. By the same token there are other movie recreations that don't come off so well and look more like a "movie" created by a person with their personal video camera.

There are a couple of problems I have with the movie. The first is the historical portrayal of Abraham Lincoln. A video of Lincoln near the end of his life in 1905 is shown and it has Lincoln saying that his biggest regret is that he never took slavery seriously and that he just used slaves for political purposes. Lincoln never did do that. It was a well known fact that Lincoln was an abolitionist. It was because of his election to the Presidency that the Southern states seceded. Abolition had been talked of since the signing of the U.S. Constitution and the Southern states knew that with Lincoln as President slavery would soon come to an end. The remarks the Lincoln of C.S.A. makes are ones completely out of character even for a Lincoln living in a world where the Confederacy won and slavery was still legal.

The second issue I had with C.S.A. is the acting, particularly that done by the man portraying John Ambrose Fauntroy V. I realize that this is a very low budget feature. I also realize there are times when the acting is supposed to be cheesy. However, Fauntroy's character is a major player in the movie, but he comes off being as more of a cartoon than a real life politician.

C.S.A. is an interesting, entertaining, and satirical film. The ambition of the project superceded the movie's budget, but that doesn't affect the ideas the film raises.

The DVD includes several extras including a commentary with director Kevin Willmott and producer Rick Cowan, another commentary with just Kevin Willmott, some deleted and extended scenes, a short making-of featurette, and a few trailers for other movies.

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