|C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America|
|Directed by||Kevin Willmott|
|Written by||Kevin Willmott|
Erich L. Timkar|
(Sundance Film Festival)
|Running time||89 minutes|
C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America is a 2004 mockumentary directed by Kevin Willmott. It is a fictional "tongue-in-cheek" account of an alternate history in which the Confederates won the American Civil War and established control over all of the United States. This viewpoint is used to satirize subsequent issues and events in American culture. C.S.A was released on DVD on August 8, 2006.
Willmott, who had earlier written a screenplay about abolitionist John Brown, told interviewers he was inspired to write the story after seeing an episode of Ken Burns's The Civil War. It was produced through his Hodcarrier Films.
Overview[edit | edit source]
The movie is presented as if it were a British documentary being broadcast on Confederate network television. It opens with a (fictional) disclaimer that suggests that censorship came close to preventing the broadcast, that its point of view might not coincide with that of the TV network, and that it might not be suitable for viewing by children and "servants". It purports to disagree with the orthodox Confederate American interpretation of United States history
It portrays two historians, Sherman Hoyle, a conservative Confederate States of America (CSA) white man, and Patricia Johnson, a black Canadian, as "talking heads," providing commentary. Throughout the documentary, a Confederate politician and Democratic presidential candidate, John Fauntroy V (the great-grandson of one of the men who helped to create the CSA), is interviewed. Narration explains faux historical newsreel footage, which is either acted for the production, or made of genuine footage with fictional, dubbed narration.
Racist ads aimed at white slave-owning families appear throughout the movie, including an electronic shackle for tracking runaway slaves, a Runaway television program (satirizing COPS), Darkie Toothpaste, Niggerhair cigarette, and the Coon Chicken Inn. Additional commercials were produced but deleted from the final cut, including ads for the Confederate States Air Force and the children's show Uncle Tom and Friends. The sitcom Beulah is portrayed as Leave It to Beulah.
At the film's end, titles note that parts of the fictional CSA timeline are based on real-life history, and that some of the advertised products did exist.
Alternate timeline[edit | edit source]
American Civil War[edit | edit source]
In the fictional timeline, politician Judah P. Benjamin succeeds in having the United Kingdom and France aid the Confederacy, so that the Battle of Gettysburg favors the South. A fictional D.W. Griffith movie shows Harriet Tubman helping Union President Abraham Lincoln (disguised in blackface) escape to Canada after the CSA's military defeat of the Union, when Confederate soldiers capture them. Tubman is put to death and Lincoln imprisoned. After two years, Lincoln is pardoned and exiled to Canada, where he dies in June 1905. Before dying, Lincoln laments not having made the civil war a battle to end slavery.
Post-war expansionism[edit | edit source]
After the war, the South tries to bring the North into their way of life. John Fauntroy I introduces a tax that is alleviated by purchase of slaves, and the works of Samuel A. Cartwright dominate American medical science. The CSA becomes the Western hemisphere's superpower — conquering and occupying all of the continental US, Mexico, Central America, and South America, with a blend of segregation and apartheid. Only Canada is not a CSA "client state", becoming home to refugee abolitionists and escaped black slaves; the American wall constructed to separate the two countries is called the "Cotton Curtain" (counterpart to the real Iron Curtain). Hatred of "Red Canada" dates to the late 19th century, when Frederick Douglass convinced the Canadian Parliament against repatriating slaves. The humane decision, despite the trade impediment of the "curtain", is vindicated when Canada reaps the greater reward of becoming the popular culture capital of the world (the African cultural contributions profitably feeding Canadian culture), whereas the CSA's culture never evolves beyond government-inspired propaganda such as The Lawrence Welk Show.
In 1895, the Confederate government, which did not separate the Church from the State, outlawed all non-Christian religions. After much debate, the Roman Catholic Church was permitted as a Christian religion. Originally, Judaism, too, was outlawed, but, after grasping the contributions of the Jewish Judah P. Benjamin to the Confederate cause, the government decided to house American Jews in a reservation (similar to a Native American reservation) in Long Island, instead of executing or deporting them.
World War II[edit | edit source]
During World War II, the CSA was friendly with Nazi Germany, but disagreed with Hitler's Final Solution — the CSA preferred enslaving non-white races, instead of destroying them. The CSA agreed to remain neutral in any German war. Instead, the CSA preemptively attacked the Empire of Japan on December 7, 1941 (counterpart to the attack on Pearl Harbor), as the opening blow in a defensive war against the "Yellow Peril". The CSA military commissioned a black regiment to fight that race war, by promising the black soldiers freedom if they would agree to fight (which was later revealed to be a lie), which is ended by the atomic bomb. This was dubbed the "Long Island Project" and involved capturing Albert Einstein, who was en route to Canada to provide the atomic bomb as a solution against the Nazis, and convincing him through deception to develop the bomb for the C.S.A. instead, stating they would use it to attack Germany but attacking Japan instead (though this is mentioned on the film's website and not in the film itself) — the bomb's development is referred to as "the Grace of God", by historian Hoyle. However, the European World War II still ends in German defeat, but with many more Soviets dead.
Cold war with Canada[edit | edit source]
During the 1950s, a series of abolitionist attacks cause some Confederate Americans to question the need for slavery. In 1960, when only 29 percent of voters approve of slavery, Roman Catholic Republican John F. Kennedy is elected CSA president over Democratic candidate Richard Nixon. However, foreign policy such as the Newfoundland Missile Crisis distracts him, and he is unable to change the nation before being assassinated. The Vietnam War is briefly mentioned as an "expansionist campaign" of the CSA. Slaves rebel throughout the country, including the Watts Riots. Democratic Senator John Ambrose Fauntroy V presents programs returning America to its former Southern Protestant Biblical values — tolerance of adultery and of husbands beating their wives, and intolerance of homosexuals. By the early 1990s, the Confederacy has largely put away such self-doubt.
Modern day[edit | edit source]
The documentary's finale reveals the documentarians had asked Senator Fauntroy V to arrange their meeting with some slaves. As the slaves were coached for the interview, proceeding was pointless. However, the crew had clandestinely received a note instructing them to go to a rural Virginia road and meet the black man "Big Sam" (earlier identified as a slave who had been a fugitive for two years). Big Sam, in turn, leads them to Horace, a slave of Sen. Fauntroy, who alleges Fauntroy is part black, having a slave ancestor. The racial accusations cost Sen. Fauntroy the presidential election; a month later, the senator commits suicide on December 12, 2002. Narration then states DNA tests were "negative."
Cast and crew[edit | edit source]
Main cast[edit | edit source]
- Sherman Hoyle: Rupert Pate
- Patricia Johnson: Evamarii Johnson
- John Fauntroy V: Larry Peterson
- Narrator: Charles Frank
Crew[edit | edit source]
- Director: Kevin Willmott
- Writer: Kevin Willmott
- Producers: Rick Cowan, Ollie Hall, Sean Blake, Victoria Goetz, Benjamin Meade, Andrew Herwitz and Marvin Voth. (The film, after the initial public release, became a Spike Lee production.)
- Editors: Sean Blake and David Gramly
See also[edit | edit source]
- Bring the Jubilee
- Fire on the Mountain (1988 novel)
- Captain Confederacy
- Gettysburg: A Novel of the Civil War
- Guns of the South
- How Few Remain
References[edit | edit source]
[edit | edit source]
- Official website
- C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America at Allmovie
- C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America at the Internet Movie Database