Sunday, March 05, 2006

Confederate States of America

Everybody I know is raving about the movie, Confederate States of America. This is a fake BBC documentary that chronicles the history of the theoretical nation known as the Confederate States of America. This nation, the product of a southern victory in the civil war retains the institution of slavery. The film chronicles the history of the CSA from the southern victory to modern times. Each of the events chronicled makes use of bits and pieces of the real past and mixes them in with an interesting twist. For example, after the south wins the war an all out search for Abraham Lincoln is made by the southern armies. It turns out that he is being helped to escape to Canada by Harriet Tubman. As they attempt to cross into Canada, Lincoln is captured. To add insult to injury he's captured wearing blackface. This fact is repeatedly lampooned, but most notably in an interesting remake of The Birth of a Nation.

I've been struggling to fairly describe this movie. I didn't think it was that great, but I don't want to give the impression that it is without merit. I wouldn't want to prevent people from seeing it. I was chatting with someone about the movie and I think that conversation best expresses my feelings. I'm lazy, so rather than edit into something coherent, I will copy and paste it here and let you sort out the mess.

(11:04:14) Somebody Else: did you see the movie this week?
(11:04:24) Me: oh. yes.
(11:04:25) Somebody Else: and
(11:04:28) Somebody Else: how was it
(11:05:14) Me: I'm tempted to say ham handed, but so many people are raving about it that I feel like I'm kicking somebody's puppy.
(11:05:42) Me: I think if it had been made 10 years ago, it would have been a classic
(11:06:54) Me: The premise is still a good one, but some of the lengths that the director had to go to, to pull it off, are a bit tired.
(11:07:39) Somebody Else: interesting
(11:07:44) Me: He has to sling around as many racial stereotypes and epithets in a comical manner that it looses its power.
(11:08:02) Me: I think Spike Lee did it much better in Bamboozled.
(11:09:23) Me: But that's just me. I know a lot of people are raving about it. I think it is still worth seeing, but it definitely didn't feel ground breaking to me.

So there you have it. Once again, this movie is a valiant effort, but not a classic in my eyes.

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