Death of a Nation Aug 2, 2018 21:48:51 GMT -5
Post by StevePulaski on Aug 2, 2018 21:48:51 GMT -5
Death of a Nation (2018)
Directed by: Dinesh D'Souza and Bruce Schooley
Directed by: Dinesh D'Souza and Bruce Schooley
Since 2016: Obama's America, documentarian Dinesh D'Souza has done a great job of neglecting the theses of his subsequent documentaries. In America: Imagine the World Without Her, D'Souza started by asking the very reasonable question of where the world would be if the United States never existed, but all hope for thoughtful analysis fell apart when he showed a greater concern for justifying exceptionalist attitudes towards America. In Hillary's America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party, D'Souza found it easier to harp on Hillary Clinton than voice praise for Donald Trump, like so many people, but spent a ludicrous amount of time disguising unfounded anti-Democratic Party propaganda as an investigative look at history untold. The end result was a shameless mess that the conservative populous ate up not so much because it was a good documentary but because it mostly, if incompetently, adhered to their own beliefs: Hillary Clinton was a traitor who deserved to be locked up.
For D'Souza's next trick, he presents an analogy so laughably baseless that it would be a stretch to consider it click-bait on a fake news site. His latest documentary, Death of a Nation, asserts that Donald Trump's presidency is comparable to that of President Abraham Lincoln's, the first Republican president. D'Souza suggests that both men took over the White House after a long-stretch of Democratic rulers, were met with intense opposition and violent protests, and both sought to bring America closer in-line with its promise of being a haven for dreams and opportunity. Living up to the aforementioned claims and questions in his previous two films, the film doesn't even begin to develop on this core-claim outside of generalities, for it has a mere 110 minutes to over-stuff with revisionist history, TMZ-esque revelations about former Democratic figures, and a lot of blame for the boys in blue.
The documentary is a mix of dramatized moments depicting World War II, news clips, and Dinesh D'Souza pacing around historical landmarks looking pensive and astute as he tries to comprehend how nations are destroyed both from the outside and the inside. The reenactment scenes are awful enough to encourage guffaws even in a movie theater. Marred by low production values, artificial lighting that turns the film into a grainy mess, and acting (mostly by a foreign cast) that would be a step-up if you could call it "amateur," it looks cheap and shameful. It's a sorry excuse for a film making some pretty serious claims to look this dismal.
Nonetheless, we open with a scene showing Adolf Hitler (played by Pavel Kríz) commit suicide. Then we wash that down with a long-winded, gloating montage assembled by D'Souza and company that shows a barrage of news-people, politicians, and celebrities reacting to the news of Trump running for president, responding in disbelief throughout the campaign trail, and then eating their words and lashing out upon watching the results pour in on that fateful November day. Once again, rather than try and commend Trump's actions and demeanor, it's much easier for D'Souza (and his Republican brethren) to brag about the historic upset and be proud of their "I told you so" to liberals; just like it's easier for a Trump supporter to argue with a Trump hater if they use the words "Obama," "Hillary," "emails," and "socialism" at some point.
From there on out, it's a travelogue of D'Souza's international trips, as he meets with alleged scholars for awkward, highly edited interviews, and tries to rewrite history in such a way that blames fascism's very existence on Democrats and socialist leaders. D'Souza even sits down with outspoken white supremacist Richard Spencer and questions him in such a roundabout, incoherent manner that he agrees with our documentarian billing him as "the white Malcolm X" and gets him to shrug and say he does indeed agree with some liberal principles. The entire experience prompts some hilarious quotes, such as my personal favorite from D'Souza: "they [Democrats] call Trump a fascist because he is a nationalist — like my countryman Gandhi."
Death of a Nation is designed to get a reaction, positive or negative. There are a few great ironies here. One in particular is that the more people blast D'Souza's film, like myself, and call it a dangerous piece of thoughtless, partisan trite, the more emboldened that makes his press tours and Fox News appearances. Suddenly, his new documentary is the film "the lame-stream fake news media doesn't want you to see." Two, moments such as D'Souza reading over the Nazi Nuremberg laws and saying they'd be endorsed by Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders is just the kind of nebulous, knee-jerk claim that will convince the ignorant they are all-knowing (this statement stemming from the laws saying health-care should be government-funded). Finally, there's perhaps the greatest irony that comes during one of the repugnant dramatized scenes that shows Hitler saying "if you tell a big enough lie, and tell it frequently enough, people will believe it." Good to see that theory in practice.
Let's say you pick up what D'Souza puts (or rather slams) down, and his reaches and assumptions resonate with you. I hope you can at least admit that his presentation is lousy, putting it mildly. One moment, he's talking about Franklin D. Roosevelt calling Mussolini a "kindred spirit" in a newspaper. The next, he's claiming once again that the Dixiecrats and Republicans never switched parties and the Democrats just stayed evil their entire existence, and moments later, he's telling us the Third Reich is seen as a contemporary liberal dream. Rather than denouncing the violence plaguing America today, and admitting at the very least that a good portion of it comes from a president emboldened by his ability to make boisterous assertions — and a media that's problematic in lapping it up and putting it on replay — D'Souza mixes together a nice, digestible word salad for us all and comes with the intent to do some ideological agenda-pushing in order to place the blame in someone else's corner. It's really contemptible, sickening stuff, and to be subjected to two hours of it is a test of endurance.
Nothing could've prepared even the most scathing critic of D'Souza's for Death of a Nation, a film that will undoubtedly be among the list of worst documentaries ever made and quite possibly worst films ever made as well. This is an ungainly mess of anti-intellectual drivel, so inept cinematically the thought of it gracing more than 1,000 screens is enough to make a preacher cuss. To make matters even more shady and dubious, the film gets a release just weeks after President Trump pardoned D'Souza following his conviction and imprisonment for making illegal campaign contributions (an experience made episodic in Hillary's America, to laughable effect). If there ever were a film that looked like it was made in a flash and doubled as a back-scratching favor to the president in hopes he'd throw him a bone on the national stage, Death of a Nation fits the bill, and it's a complete embarrassment.
Directed by: Dinesh D'Souza.