It is a rare experience to have a documentary film move you emotionally as narrative films often do. New York Times bestselling author Dinesh D’Souza’s defense of America did just that.
D’Souza introduced the film to a packed ballroom at the Anthem Film Festival, part of FreedomFest, on Friday, July 11, 2014. He bragged that although the film had just come out last week, it was already in the top 10 most successful documentaries of all time.
The name – America: Imagine the World Without Her – led my expectations astray. Although it does begin with a battle in the American Revolution in which General George Washington is killed by a sniper, it was not the alternate history film I was expecting.
After the initial “what if” scenes, D’Souza chooses to examine the arguments typically arrayed against America by some on the modern left that its wealth is based on slavery, theft, imperialism and genocide. He interviews prominent leftists such as Elizabeth Warren and Bill Ayers and lets them state their case. After gathering a list of indictments, he begins to examine them in the light of American history.
What makes this film exceptional as a documentary is that D’Souza has learned an important filmmaking fundamental: show, don’t tell. This is not a boring history lecture. It is more like an historical drama. We meet not only Washington, Lincoln, Alexis de Tocqueville, Frederick Douglass and others staples of the American story, but also are treated to reenactments of Saul Alinsky and young Hillary Clinton.
D’Souza also learned from Hollywood that it is not necessary to tell a story chronologically. He jumps back and forth between the centuries to illuminate the points he tries to make. He mixes these with contemporary interviews and archival footage to reinforce his argument.
When the film ended, the audience gave it a standing ovation and continued to stand as a rock-and-roll version of the National Anthem played under the titles.
D’Souza returned to the stage for a Q&A.
Several questions centered on what audience members could do to aid in the fight against the enemies of freedom.
“This film is an opening salvo in the struggle,” he said. “The conservative movement must retake the world of media, entertainment and education because that is where the struggle for people’s minds takes place.”
He said that not many conservatives understood the nature of the battle. “Prominent people have told me, because they have heard of the Internet, that I should make 90 second videos instead of movies. You do not change people’s minds with 90 second videos.”
As for immediate action, he encouraged people to get their friends to see the movie next week. “The following week,” he said, “get someone who disagrees with you to see the movie. We need to get the message to people who would not ordinarily attend FreedomFest. We also need to make this movie a success so that people will make more films like it.”
A touching moment occurred when a veteran commented that some of the sessions earlier in the conference had begun to make him think he had wasted the 30 years he had spent in the military. “But after seeing your film,” he said, “I know that I did the right thing.”
America: Imagine the World Without Her, rated PG-13 for some violent images, is currently in release. More information is available at http://americathemovie.com/.[amazon template=iframe image&asin=162157203X,1596982764,1414326017,1476773351]