Cast: Dinesh D’Souza, Robert Paxton, Allen C. Guelzo, Edwin Black
Directors: Dinesh D’Souza, Bruce Schooley
Synopsis from Rotten Tomatoes: Not since 1860 have the Democrats so fanatically refused to accept the result of a free election. That year, their target was Lincoln. They smeared him. They went to war to defeat him. In the end, they assassinated him. Now the target of the Democrats is President Trump and his supporters. The Left calls them racists, white supremacists and fascists. These charges are used to justify driving Trump from office and discrediting the right “by any means necessary.” But which is the party of the slave plantation? Which is the party that invented white supremacy? Which is the party that praised fascist dictators and shaped their genocidal policies and was in turn praised by them? Moreover, which is the party of racism today? Is fascism now institutionally embodied on the right or on the left? Through stunning historical recreations and a searching examination of fascism and white supremacy, Death of a Nation cuts through progressive big lies to expose hidden history and explosive truths. Lincoln united his party and saved America from the Democrats for the first time. Can Trump-and we-come together and save America for the second time?
Every once in a while, we get a political documentary so groundbreaking, eye-opening, and honest that it shapes the way its viewers look at the political system. Death of a Nation is not one of those movies. Death of a Nation focuses its entire 109 minute runtime on supporting a narrative that will only appeal to those who already believe in the same things as D’Souza. This film is borderline propaganda, and the sad part is, it is not even an entertaining enough film to laugh at. A hastily made film from start to finish, Death of a Nation exists exclusively to reaffirm people’s beliefs and every argument presented is either misleading, misinformed, or just factually inaccurate.
The film follows Dinesh D’Souza as he presents his main thesis about racism in politics. D’Souza claims that the media and Hollywood elites label the Republican party as the party of racists and fascists, but in reality the Democrat party are the real racists and fascists. D’Souza travels around the world interviewing people who align with this hypothesis and reenacts moments from the past that show how these events are relevant to our political discourse today. Before getting to the political elements, I want to discuss how this film fails from a purely cinematic standpoint. The reenactments, specifically the ones involving Nazis, are laughably bad. These scenes look like bad History Channel moments and are distractingly horrendous. Outside of those scenes, for some odd reason there are multiple musical numbers within this documentary. The pacing for this movie is already terrible, but to pause the plot of the movie for a three-minute rendition of, “America the Beautiful,” is incredibly unnecessary and just makes the film drag on even further than it needed to. I understand the film’s intention of adding a moment of, “beauty,” and trying to send a message of hope to those who feel powerless after watching this movie, but these moments completely miss the mark. In one final reenactment, D’Souza describes that the only way to defeat an oppressive government is to rise up and resist in any way possible and describes the story of Sophie Scholl and her work with the White Rose. There are two things that stand out during this segment, and not in a particularly good way. The first is that in every other foreign reenactment, the Germans speak German and the Italians speak Italian. In this one however, everyone is speaking English for some reason. Not only is this inconsistent, but I believe it is an intentional plot device to force the point that those who do not speak English are the bad guys in society. Maybe I am reading too much into it, but that could have been avoided if the film stayed consistent during these reenactments. The other point is that the way D’Souza introduces this segment is almost as if he is comparing himself and his work to Scholl and her work. Regardless of what you think of his politics, to compare yourself to someone who actually died for their cause while the worst thing you have been through was spending some time in a halfway house is a pretty arrogant mindset to have. This fits the feel of the rest of the film though, as through his narration and interviews, D’Souza comes across as incredibly self-righteous and arrogant, so an unwarranted self-comparison to a historical figure seems appropriate within the context of the film.
Moving on to the actual politics of the film, the main issue this film has is that it either grossly understates the issue for the sake of proving D’Souza’s point or using conspiracy theories to paint an untrue picture of people or society. Specifically, D’Souza paints the fascist of Italy and Germany as left-leaning due to their support of social policies and that fascism is a left-leaning ideology from the start. If you do any independent research on fascism, the first thing you will find is that it is a predominantly right-leaning ideology. This is the main issue with D’Souza’s entire film, is that he takes snippets of a platform and generalizes the entire system with a broad stroke. He does with people too, as he uses his interview with white supremacist Richard Spencer to try to prove that Spencer is actually a liberal and that racism is forever linked with the left. By D’Souza’s logic, Tomi Lahren is a democrat because she is pro-choice, right? It just comes across as desperate and sad and it is clearly obvious that the man is grasping at straws. People can have beliefs that do not 100% line up with the platform of a political party, but that concept seems to be lost on D’Souza. The moments where this really shines though is during his segment on George Soros. He claims that Soros hid being Jewish from the Nazis and as a fake Christian, sold out other Jews to save himself and his family. Not only has this been debunked many times, but D’Souza is one of the people who helped create this conspiracy theory. It is pretty easy to lie about someone when you are one of the main people who benefit from the lie. That statement is a pretty accurate summary of this movie. This is D’Souza’s attempt to lie to the masses and see just how many people eat this up.
Overall, no political party in the United States is racist at its core, and both sides have individuals and ideologies that I disagree with, but D’Souza’s attempt to pass blame onto Democrats is an incredible form of division done in the sloppiest of ways. This is the type of film you cannot even laugh at, because the person sitting next to you could take everything in this film as the truth. If everyone who watched this film went home and looked up the facts that D’Souza presents in Death of a Nation, there would not be that much of a discussion about this film. Instead, not only do we get a boring, weak film based on a foundation of lies, but sadly this is one of the few movies this year that will actually influence how people vote in November.
Overall Score: 1/10