The creator of one of the highest-grossing documentaries in box-office history has paired once again with an Academy-Award-winning producer to bring another unsettling scenario to the big screen as we prepare to celebrate America’s 238th birthday.
Dinesh D’Souza (2016: Obama’s America) and Gerald Molen (Shindler’s List) present viewers with the question: What if the United States of America had never been? In fact, the movie’s subtitle invites us to “imagine the world without her.”
The film first faces the critics of America head-on by breaking down the arguments that the radical left has made against this country: it was founded on racism, genocide, oppression and theft. These beliefs are behind their desire to see the country get taken down a few pegs—to a point where we’re no longer a leader in the world. D’Souza interviews those who hold these beliefs (and have passed them onto younger generations), like Ward Churchill. He was a college professor best known for his disparaging remarks about the victims of 9/11 shortly after that event. Sitting through this portion of the film gave me some idea of what it must be like to be a conservative student on nearly any college campus today, where history, economics and pretty much any other subject are presented from the point of view of the left.
This was really a strong point of the movie. By setting up the fact there’s been an effort among many in our society who wish to undermine the American idea—and backing it up with interviews—D’Souza shows us that not everyone who lives here or who was born here loves it here. This is important to establish up front, as he then goes one by one, refuting each claim made against America. He does this quite well using news clips and more interviews that give the story of America the balance it deserves.
America isn’t just a series of news clips and sit-down interviews, however. Dramatic re-enactments are used effectively throughout the movie to bring moments in history, and those who made history, to life. We see General George Washington commanding his troops; President Abraham Lincoln giving his last speech before being gunned down by an assassin’s bullet; former slave-turned-abolitionist Frederick Douglass, and the experience of one Vietnam POW at the Hanoi Hilton.
D’Souza and co-director John Sullivan (2016: Obama’s America) are skilled storytellers, as they bring the audience into the past, all the while making connections to today. Anyone who may not be familiar with the teachings of Saul Alinsky will come away from this film with a better understanding of who he was and how his radical views have come full circle in the current occupant of the White House, as well as the woman who hopes to follow him (Hillary Clinton).
While watching America, you get a sense of how important it is to learn American history, and how much has already been lost due to revisionism. After all, you can’t really know where you’re going until you know where you’ve been. D’Souza maintains that America is now at a crossroads. As other generations have had to step up to preserve and protect the nation at various points in time, it’s now up to us to restore America. As he says in the film, “We need another Washington or Lincoln or Reagan…but we don’t have them. We have us.”
America is a feast for history lovers, but it’s also got a great soundtrack. Stay through the end credits and enjoy an uplifting—and rocking—new version of “The Star-Spangled Banner” by a group I’ve never heard of called Madison Rising. They call themselves “America’s most patriotic rock band” and it’s worth sticking around for a listen. You may even want to download it to accompany you on your Independence Day Weekend activities.