August 10, 2006

DVD Review: CSA: The Confederate States of America

Interesting movie. I am in no way, shape, or form terribly knowledgeable about history or politics. This puts me in a poor position to comment on the historical accuracy, or lack of, in the history presented on this movie. What this movie is good at doing is stirring up uncomfortable thoughts and causing you to think about the big "What if...?"

CSA: The Confederate States of America takes the Civil War and plays its way forward as if the South had won the the war, then known as the War of Northern Aggression. It investigates the possibilities and differences that could have taken shape in this country. What plans did the Confederate leaders have? How would the country develop? When you watch this film, be prepared to be confronted with those ideas, you may find yourself laughing at the absurd things shown here, but it will be more of a nervous laughter as it is a possibility.

The film is presented as a faux British originating documentary about the history from the time of the Civil War and moving forward. It plays like a televised documentary, complete with commercials, of a racial nature. It is very much like an alternate universe Kevin Burns documentary in its style.

The history tells of Lincoln's arrest for war crimes, his attempt to escape on Harriet Tubman's underground railroad, complete with black face. He is exiled to Canada, where many of the great thinkers of the time also go. The new CSA regime establishes an empire expanding through Mexico into South America. The story moves forward into the 1900s, when the CSA stays out of the war with Hitler, hinting at a friendship through like ideologies with the dictator.

The film follows through with the continuing of slavery, and alternate effects of events like the stock market crash, JFK's election to president, civil rights groups made up of former slaves attacking out of Canada. It is very unsettling, and very funny at the same time. The comedy comes from the commercials, many of which are based on actual products from our very real past, a past that I am sure many would like to forget do to its ugly nature.

It strikes me as a bit of an extreme possibility, some of the factual data may be suspect, and some of the directions that are gone in may be on the fringe of possibility, but it all works. What it succeeds at most is stirring up the ideas of what it could be like, it goes a long way to sparking conversation about a very difficult period of time for this country and how a few decisions could have changed the course of America's development.

Video. The film is presented in its original ratio of 1.33:1. It is a good transfer, but the film is a low budget affair, and there is nothing stunning here as it is not a big blockbuster. Nothing to complain about, it does the job.

Audio. Sound is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0. It sounds good and serves the film, nothing to strenuous to recreate. The most important aspect is the dialog, and it comes through perfectly.

Extras. It has a few worthwhile extras.
  • Making of CSA Featurette. This is comprised of interviews with director Kevin Willmott and DP Matthew Jacobsen. It runs about 10 minutes.
  • Deleted Scenes. This is about 15 minutes worth of deleted and extended scenes. They are good to watch, but may have stretched the film out a bit long.
  • 2 Commentary Tracks. The first track is with Willmott and producer Rick Cowan. They discuss the making of the film, historical context, and is scene specific. It is a good listem lots of information in an easy conversational manner. The second track is solo with Kevin Willmott. This one sounds like a reading of notes comparing the reality versus the fiction in the film.

Bottomline. This is an interesting film. It works better, for me, as a conversation piece as opposed to a realistic film. The implications are plenty disturbing, but it seems to be more of a shock possibility as opposed to being completely real world based. It is definitely worth putting on and giving a spin.


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