CSA: The Confederate States of America DVD: Review By Evan "Mushy" Jacobs

A bitingly brilliant and disturbing film.
  • OVERALL
    5.0
    SUPERB
  • Feature
  • Extras
  • Replay Value
THE GOOD
A bitingly brilliant and disturbing film.
THE BAD
I wish they would have included the script for this movie in DVD-Rom form on this disc.
THE FEATURE
CSA: The Confederate States of America is done as if an hour and a half of Tivo has been recorded and then put on DVD. Quite simply, this movie looks at what might have happened if the South had won the Civil War. It takes you through the history of America, decade by decade, and culminates in covering the political aspirations of a white candidate who becomes disgraced for a reason I will not giveaway here. Done by a fake British doc*mentary crew and employing real footage of "cultural films" made throughout our history, this film would be hilariously funny if it's subtext didn't point out that even though the South lost the war, many of it's ideals lived on (not just in that geographic area) but in this Country's history, culture and lore.

Made on a budget, CSA: The Confederate States of America doesn't go out of it's way to hide it's lack of means. Rather, it exploits it to point out how hard it is to make films like these that are really saying something. It is sad in today's world that a movie like this will have a small life theatrically, and then struggle to be seen on home video and cable where it's audience would most certainly want to see it if they knew it existed at all.
THE EXTRAS
Deleted and Extended Scenes

There are eleven of these to choose from and they have titles like "The Hunt for Dishonest Abe," "Be A Good One" and "Terrorist Threat." Some of these are scenes that were taken out of the film for time reasons, while others are longer versions of sections that appeared in the film. Overall, I think that the people behind this movie did a very good job of putting in the right amount of politics, humor and innuendo.

CSA with The Filmmakers

In a plug piece from the IFC Network, the makers of this film sit down to discuss what it means. While everything is pretty much self-explanatory, the director Kevin Willmott takes us into his mindset behind this movie. It's as if he sees the USA as a place that has so much potential and has made great strides, yet seems to always regress back into being how the CSA is portrayed in this movie.

Commentary Tracks

We get two tracks with this DVD. One is with director Kevin Willmott and Producer Rick Cowan. The other is just with Willmott. Since I wanted to get a broader perspective, I listened to Cowan and Willmott talk about making this movie, why they made the choices they did and what it took to get this film completed. They also talk about their influences, distinguishing the tones of the film as it progresses and their goal of showing how racism effects everybody.
THE VIDEO
Standard Version presented in a format preserving the Aspect Ratio of it's original Theatrical Exhibition. As I had mentioned, this film looks like something you would see on the History Channel. Done like a doc*mentary, it mixes old footage, new footage and commercial-type footage to create a film that plays in a smooth way, but then hits you over the head by the time you've realized what it's doing. There is no trickery, just pure, well crafted filmmaking.
THE AUDIO
Language: English. Subtitles: English and Spanish. The audio, considering all the different sources that came together to create this film, is really solid. This movie is just presented in a believable way. The acting by the talking heads is impeccable. What really sells all this is the music that is layered over it. This movie plays so much like a doc*mentary, it's almost scary.
THE PACKAGE
A shot of the White House emblazons this front cover with the Confederate Flag replacing the flag of the USA. This image alone might shock some people, but this movie isn't as simple as that. The back offers up some images from the movie itself, a description of what CSA: The Confederate States of America is about, a Bonus Features listing, a credits list and some minor technical specs. Even this cover carries off the faux doc*mentary idea.
THE FINAL WORD
CSA: The Confederate States of America isn't just a great film of 2006, it is a great film period. While I think it helps to have some knowledge of the Civil War when watching this movie, I think just a general foundation will be enough to get people through. I also appreciated how director Kevin Willmott touched on other groups throughout history who have been mistreated. He also didn't use this movie as a slam job against the White race. He presents the story and intersperses it with fake commercials that look like the ones that play on daytime TV. Making things even more provocative is that the end of the movie shows that these commercials aren't as fictitious as they seem.

This movie is a terrific film that deserves to be seen. It is the kind of movie that should be shown in schools. It is a well done, deftly put together and deserves a much greater degree of respect and acknowledgment than it has gotten thus far.

CSA: The Confederate States of America is one of the most important films you will ever see.

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