America (2014 film)

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America
America Imagine a World Without Her.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Dinesh D'Souza
John Sullivan
Produced by Dinesh D'Souza
Gerald R. Molen
Written by Dinesh D'Souza
John Sullivan
Bruce Schooley
Starring Dinesh D'Souza
Music by Bryan E. Miller
Dave Mustaine (Megadeth)[1]
Edited by Dinesh D'Souza
Distributed by Lionsgate
Release date(s)
  • June 27, 2014 (2014-06-27) (limited)[2]
  • July 2, 2014 (2014-07-02) (wide)[2]
Running time 103 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $13,242,504[2]

America is a 2014 American political documentary film by Dinesh D'Souza.[3] Styled as a docudrama,[4] it is based on his book which explores his concept of what the world might look like without America as a nation and it examines of some of the rhetorical complaints about the country.[5] D'Souza was executive producer of the film and co-directed it with John Sullivan. Gerald R. Molen also produced.[6] He had served as producer of D'Souza's previous film, 2016: Obama's America.

Synopsis[edit]

Setting the stage for a presentation of their views, D'Souza and Sullivan provide alternative histories in which George Washington is killed during the Revolutionary War, or the country is divided following civil war, creating a world without America that would be vastly worse off.[7] He claims modern leftists are “telling a new story”, however, contradicting traditional veneration for America in order to “convince a nation to author its own destruction” and “unmake the America that is here now.” He then challenges several "indictments" made against the country and American exceptionalism, including sociology professor and activist Michael Eric Dyson's claim that “Thievery" was the “critical element” for “American empire” and historian and activist Ward Churchill's assertion that the US is the world's new evil empire, and says that 1960s Chicago radical Saul Alinski, historian Howard Zinn, and others have promoted guilt and resentment regarding wealth inequality that has helped shape the political careers of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

D'Souza argues that America's wealth has been created, not stolen. He says the $700 used to purchase colonial Manhattan from American Indians could buy many desolate parcels globally today, but that individual industry has made New York real estate worth billions. He states that in Europe, India, and elsewhere most countries have been founded on conquest, and observes that the American pattern of wealth creation hasn't been the universal norm. He cites examples like Arab historian Ibn Khaldun preferring looting to trade and says that merchants form Hinduism’s second-lowest social caste.

The film argues that American Indians exhibited this "conquest ethic" among themselves, and that most of what American Indian depopulation occurred during European colonization resulted from the accidental transmission of plagues that had earlier devastated Europe, not an intent to wipe out a people. It says modern American Indians have little interest in returning to their hunter-gatherer past. In an interview Senator Ted Cruz compares the Texas Revolution to the American Revolution. Professor and Reconquista advocate Charles Truxillo is contrasted with an interviewed American of Mexican descent who says he has no desire to return to a poverty and crime ridden Mexico and instead wants to live the "American Dream".

D'Souza says that slavery impeded American development, rather than boosting it. The film argues that slavery was an omnipresent phenomenon for most of human history, but that its abolition was "uniquely Western", noting the rarity of a "great war fought to end slavery" like the American Civil War. According to the film the Declaration of Independence essentially says “liberty is the solution to injustice,” a “promissory note” cashed throughout history by Americans such as Martin Luther King, Jr.. C.J. Walker, the black entrepreneur and daughter of slaves who is regarded as America's first self made female millionaire, is cited as an example of the type of individual success story the American system allows that is ignored by historians like Zinn because it undermines their leftist narrative. Columbia University economist Jagdish Bhagwati is shown saying that the “world is embracing the free market,” for which there is “no reason for us to be apologetic.” The film outlines how free enterprise, consumer choice rather than coercion, has raised living standards by making existing goods cheaper and creating new ones.

The film challenges the notion that America is a rapacious conqueror by arguing that Americans have sacrificed for human well being around the world, including places like Afghanistan, Iraq, Germany, and Japan, seeking in return only “enough ground to bury” their dead, as former Secretary of State Colin Powell is quoted as saying. A US veteran of Hanoi Hilton captivity is interviewed discussing his desire to liberate Vietnam. D'Souza reflects on Lincoln's assassination and the continuing cost of freedom, saying that we no longer have past heroes like Washington and Lincoln, but "we do have us” in “our struggle for the restoration of America.” [8]

Cast[edit]

Marketing and release[edit]

Marketing for the film included the distribution of a sample sermon and film clips to 120,000 churches in the United States.[3][9] The film was given a wide release on July 2 and it finished #11 in the weekend box office for July 4 through 6 grossing $2,743,753[10] for a total gross of $5,352,705 after its opening weekend.[2] The film did not perform as well as D'Souza's earlier film 2016: Obama's America,[11] but by its second weekend of wide release it had become the seventh highest grossing political documentary of all time.[12] Its box office receipts declined by 12.8% in its second wide release weekend from its opening weekend, while the number of screens the movie was shown on was unchanged at 1,105,[13][14] the movie also dropped one place to #12 in the box office and increased its total gross to $8,211,791.[15] In its third weekend in wide release it retained its #12 ranking, with the number of screens dropping to 1,030 and a 29.9% drop in box office receipts. Its total gross increased to $11,421,052.[16] The number of screens dropped in its fourth weekend to 760 and its ranking dropped to #20 with a weekend gross of $903,937, a 46.1% drop, for a total gross is $13,242,504.[17]

Critical response[edit]

Review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes listed the film as receiving a 9% approval rating, based on a count of 22 reviews; the summary states: "Passionate but poorly constructed, America preaches to the choir."[18] On the review aggregator Metacritic, the film has a score of 14 out of 100, based on 11 critics (indicating "overwhelming dislike").[19]

Critic Peter Sobczynski of RogerEbert.com gave the film one star, writing that it "looks terrible, it plods along with all the verve of a PowerPoint presentation, the occasional dramatic recreations are exceptionally cheesy and the interview footage is so needlessly over-edited that you get the feeling that something may have gotten changed around in the cutting room."[20] Stephen Farber of The Hollywood Reporter wrote that it was a "dubious piece of agitprop that will delight the author's fans and have very little impact on his opponents."[21] David Ehrlich of The A.V. Club gave it a grade of an "F" and wrote that it was "astonishingly facile, a film comprised entirely of straw man arguments."[22] Jonathan Hickman of the Newnan Times-Herald said "...'America' is a handsomely made picture that... promot[es] a Right leaning view of history." He adds, "The film feels like a very abridged almost "Cliff's Notes" presentation lacking the in depth analysis necessary to fully appreciate [D'Souza's] position."[23]

Audience polls and other responses[edit]

CinemaScore reported that its sample of opening night audiences gave the film a rare A+ grade on a scale of A+ to F.[24][25]

Jim Gaines of Reuters recommended against watching the film, writing: "...America ... exemplifies everything that's wrong about the American political conversation these days, rich with examples from both left and right."[26] Gerald R. Molen responded: "I'm used to having my movies critiqued, but to have a reporter actually tell people not to attend a movie is a first. This is the movie world's version of voter suppression efforts in politics...."[27]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Bond, Paul (May 28, 2014). "Dinesh D'Souza's 'America' to Feature Megadeth Founder's Heavy Metal National Anthem (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. 
  2. ^ a b c d America (2014) at Box Office Mojo
  3. ^ a b Bond, Paul (June 16, 2014). "Dinesh D'Souza's 'America' Marketing Targets Church Groups". The Hollywood Reporter. "Religious leaders will be provided video clips to show parishioners, including one of Ronald Reagan and another of George Washington fighting in the Revolutionary War." 
  4. ^ McKay, Hollie (July 2, 2014). "Dinesh D'Souza's 'America' imagines the world without the USA". foxnews.com. Los Angeles: Fox News Entertainment. 
  5. ^ D'Souza, Dinesh (2014). America. 
  6. ^ "America: Imagine the World Without Her". Americathemovie.com. Retrieved 16 July 2014. 
  7. ^ Buchanan, Jason. "Synopsis". Fandango.com. Rovi. 
  8. ^ Harrod, Andrew E. (July 2, 2014). "Imaging a World without America; Dinesh D'Souza's New Film Refutes Detractors Who Scorn Her History". Washington, DC: The Washington Times. Retrieved July 28, 2014. 
  9. ^ Harper, Jennifer (July 2, 2014). "Inside the Beltway: John Voight Steps Up to Support 'America' Movie". Washington, DC: The Washington Times. Retrieved July 28, 2014.   – via Questia (subscription required)
  10. ^ Weekend Box Office Results for July 4–6, 2014 – Box Office Mojo
  11. ^ Dinesh D'Souza's Doc America Can't Match Box Office Lightning Of His 2016 Obama's America The Wrap.com
  12. ^ "Documentary – Political". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 15 July 2014. 
  13. ^ Subers, Ray (July 13, 2014). "Weekend Report: 'Apes' Goes Bananas". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 27 July 2014. 
  14. ^ http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?page=daily&id=america2014.htm
  15. ^ Weekend Box Office Results for July 11–13, 2014 – Box Office Mojo
  16. ^ Weekend Box Office Results for July 18–20, 2014 – Box Office Mojo
  17. ^ http://www.boxofficemojo.com/weekend/chart/?yr=2014&wknd=30&p=.htm
  18. ^ America (2014) at Rotten Tomatoes
  19. ^ America at Metacritic
  20. ^ Peter Sobczynski (July 2, 2014). Review: America, Ebert Digital, LLC
  21. ^ http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/review/america-film-review-716467
  22. ^ http://www.avclub.com/review/director-2016-obamas-america-it-again-america-206466
  23. ^ Hickman, Jonathan (July 11, 2014). "'America' In Theaters Today". www.times-herald.com. Newnan, Georgia: The Newnan Times-Herald. 
  24. ^ Weekend Report: 'Transformers' Repeats On Weak Independence Day Weekend – Box Office Mojo
  25. ^ Cinemascore website description of its methodology.
  26. ^ Jim Gaines (July 2, 2014). "To celebrate the Fourth of July, don't see this movie". Reuters.com. 
  27. ^ Christian Toto (July 3, 2014). "Reuters Blogger: Boycott D'Souza's 'America'". Breitbart.com. 

External links[edit]