C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America
Time Out says
‘CSA’ is structured as a TV production complete with narrator, academic talking heads and archive material, and punctuated by adverts and news breaks. (Supposedly a British programme, its clear model is Ken Burns’s stately PBS account of the Civil War.) Something of a labour of love for Willmott, a writer and academic, it’s an undeniably ambitious and conspicuously provocative project.
The joke wears thin before too long, however, not least because the execution of the tongue-in-cheek artefacts falls short of their often witty conception. It’s also unable, by definition, to engage directly with the actual consequences of slavery. But even if the film’s ambitions outstrip its achievements, it scores some queasily conscience-pricking hits. The smiling bigotry of fake ads for once-genuine racist products (such as the Coon Chicken Inn, as seen in ‘Ghost World’) disturbs more than any cod anecdote about Lincoln in blackface, their potency as taboo objects hinting that the unacknowledged legacy of slavery isn’t too far from the surface of real US culture.
Cast and crew
Ryan L Carroll