Death of a Nation: Can We Save America a Second Time?
|Death of a Nation:|
Can We Save America a Second Time?
Theatrical release poster
|Produced by||Gerald R. Molen|
The Big Lie and Death of a Nation|
by Dinesh D'Souza
|Narrated by||Dinesh D'Souza|
|Music by||Dennis McCarthy|
|Edited by||Dinesh D'Souza|
|Distributed by||Quality Flix|
|Box office||$5 million|
Death of a Nation: Can We Save America a Second Time? is a 2018 American political documentary film by conservative political commentator Dinesh D'Souza. In the documentary, D'Souza positively compares the 45th President of the United States Donald Trump to the 16th President Abraham Lincoln. The film indicates that the Democratic Party from both eras was critical of both Presidents and analyzes the Democrats' alleged similarities to fascist regimes, including the Nazi Party. The film was written and directed by Dinesh D'Souza and Bruce Schooley; it was produced by Gerald R. Molen.
Death of a Nation was released in the United States on August 3, 2018 and has grossed $5 million. The film was panned by professional critics, while historians Adam Tooze and John Broich respectively discredited the film's premise of tying the Democratic Party's policies to the Nazi Party's own and the premise of connecting liberalism with fascism.
The documentary compares the 45th President of the United States Donald Trump to the 16th President of the United States Abraham Lincoln, and explores the role of the Democratic Party in opposing both presidents.
In the documentary, D'Souza accuses the modern Democratic Party of racism, and attempts to demonstrate how Democrats have used accusations of racism, white supremacy, and fascism as a tool to discredit the political right. He claims that the modern political left is currently using these types of accusations in attempts to remove Trump from office "by any means necessary." D'Souza also attempts to demonstrate a connection between the Democratic Party's past racism and advocacy for white supremacy and the current party, while claiming the Republican Party has not advocated for such things.
In addition, D'Souza claims that fascism is a left-wing, rather than right-wing ideology, and that fascist regimes such as the Nazi Party have historically both praised the Democratic Party and utilized American racial law to inspire their own racial laws.
These claims are used to draw parallels between the modern political climate surrounding the election and presidency of Donald Trump with the historical events surrounding Abraham Lincoln's election, presidency, and assassination.
The following figures appear in the documentary:
- Dinesh D’Souza, conservative political commentator
- Robert Paxton, political scientist
- Allen C. Guelzo, Civil War historian
- Edwin Black, syndicated columnist and investigative journalist
- Stefan Kuhl, sociology professor
- Richard B. Spencer, white supremacist
- James O'Keefe, conservative political activist
- Victoria Chilap, actor who plays Sophie Scholl
- Pavel Kriz, actor who plays Adolf Hitler
- Rafael Prazak
- Don Taylor, actor who plays Abraham Lincoln
Dinesh D'Souza said his documentary was based on the books Hitler's American Model: The United States and the Making of Nazi Race Law by James Whitman, and Racism: A Short History by George M. Fredrickson. The film was produced on a budget of $6 million.
Death of a Nation had its world premiere in Los Angeles, California on July 30, 2018. Figures in attendance included D'Souza, his wife and executive producer Debbie D'Souza, co-producer Aaron Brubaker, conservative political commentator Tomi Lahren, and political candidate Antonio Sabàto Jr.. The political documentary premiered in Washington, D.C. on August 1, 2018, being co-hosted by D'Souza and President Donald Trump's son Donald Trump Jr. Also in attendance were United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson, former sheriff David Clarke, reporter Lee Stranahan, alt-right internet troll and conspiracy theorist Jack Posobiec, and former Deputy Assistant to the President Sebastian Gorka.
Quality Flix, a subsidiary label of the Christian faith-based film production and distribution company Pure Flix, commercially released the documentary in 1,032 theaters in the United States on August 3, 2018. It was the first political documentary in a decade to be released at over a thousand theaters (the last documentary being Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed), with most documentaries usually being released in select theaters. Death of a Nation was released alongside Christopher Robin, The Spy Who Dumped Me, and The Darkest Minds, and was projected to gross around $3 million in its opening weekend. It grossed $2.3 million, which was the lowest opening of D'Souza's wide releases. Variety's Rebecca Rubin described the performance as a "mediocre debut" with a "tepid" average of $2,248 per theater. She said while a documentary grossing over a million dollars would be impressive, it was "not exactly promising" for a film released in over a thousand locations. It dropped 58.1% to $988K in its second weekend. As of August 16, 2018[update], the film has grossed $5 million.
PostTrak reported that filmgoers gave the film a score of 4 out of 5 stars, while The Hollywood Reporter wrote that those polled by CinemaScore (which was paid by the filmmakers to conduct polls of audiences) gave it a grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale. Yahoo! News reported, "Exit polls show 57% men, 86% over 25, with 41% being over 55 and 69% Caucasian and 10% Hispanic." Variety's Rubin said the documentary "has generated some positive sentiment among conservatives" such as The Daily Caller journalist Stephanie Hamill.
Critics panned the documentary. Haaretz's Adrian Hennigan said they were "unmoved by D'Souza's claims for authenticity". Hennigan said, "Some critics questioned whether they should be giving any space to the filmmaker's right-wing guff in praise of Trump and off-the-screen rants against liberals." USA Today reported of the film drawing parallels between Democratic Party and Nazi Party ideologies, "These political and historical claims have earned the most pointed criticism." On the review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 0% based on 11 reviews, with an average rating of 1.9/10. On Metacritic the film has a weighted average score of 1 out of 100, based on 8 critics, indicating "overwhelming dislike".
Peter Sobczynski of RogerEbert.com described Death of a Nation as "...D'Souza's usual stew of cherry-picked facts, overt omissions, inept historical reenactments, slanders, innuendos, stuff taken from his earlier movies, shots of him walking pensively through empty areas and clips from other and better movies." He added that the documentary "could well be of service to future historians struggling to make sense of our current madness." Owen Gleiberman, reviewing for Variety, said "Dinesh D'Souza goes over the top—of hate, and of truth—in his latest documentary, a radical-right screed that equates liberalism with Nazism." Gleiberman compared the film to D'Souza's previous documentaries, "Death of a Nation breaks through to a whole new slime-o-sphere of over-the-top ideological libel".
The Hollywood Reporter's Frank Scheck called the documentary "painfully unendurable" and that D'Souza's new film was more "hyperbolic and hysterical" than his past films, particularly with the claim that "Democrats... are merely fascists and Nazis, minus the cool iconography". Scheck also found the film to have "many poorly staged, cheesy historical reenactments featuring actors who wouldn't pass muster at a small-town dinner theater". The critic concluded, "For all of its incendiary arguments, Death of a Nation is ultimately tedious and repetitive."
Bill Goodykoontz, reviewing for The Arizona Republic, described the documentary as "messy, unintentionally hilarious". Goodykoontz said he gave D'Souza's 2016: Obama's America "a somewhat positive review" based on filmmaking skill but found Death of a Nation to include "live-action recreations that are laughably inept". The critic also found the documentary to lack a narrative flow. He said, "D'Souza does some of what he did in Hillary's America, taking established facts... and pretending like they are some sort of secret that he alone has uncovered. He addresses some of the counterarguments to his positions... But he's not putting his claims together in any form that makes sense."
D'Souza blamed the negative critical reception and the resulting Rotten Tomatoes score on critics being leftist and suppressing his message with negative reviews.
Historian Adam Tooze said of the film's premise that the contemporary US Democratic Party's policies matched the Nazi Party's policies is false. The Independent reported, "[Tooze] said it was commonplace for conservatives to try and smear progressives by saying the Nazis also had a welfare programme... almost all political parties in Europe in the 1920s supported some sort of welfare scheme. The difference, he said, was that the Nazis were bent on launching 'all out war'."
Associate professor of history John Broich said of the film's premise of connecting liberalism with fascism that the film committed a category error, "a fallacy in which one compares or conflates things that actually belong in different categories". Broich said, "Fascism and leftism belong in fundamentally different categories, because the essence of fascism was, and is, anti-leftism." He said, "While historians certainly debate the details, they all agree with this basic precept about the core of fascism." Broich quoted fascism scholar Robert Paxton, "[Fascism is] dictatorship against the Left amidst popular enthusiasm."
Conservative political commentary
The conservative online magazine American Thinker claims that the film's broader points are reasonable, but that the film "oversimplifies, sometimes distorts, and excludes inconvenient facts." The commentator stated that despite the film's flaws, the film makes an accurate case that modern Democratic policies of "statism and socialism" have caused black Americans to have increased dependence on the government, which the commentator describes as "a form of enslavement."
Conservative political commentator Tomi Lahren, who attended the premier of Death of a Nation, praised the film for exposing Americans to conservative viewpoints that "they might not have seen before." Lahren clained that films like Death of a Nation are a useful tool to bring conservative voices to the public eye.
Carol Swain, a former political science professor from Vanderbilt University, lamented that film will likely not be seen by most African-Americans, claiming that the film could change their minds on American political parties. Swain encouraged African-Americans to dig into the history of the Democratic Party.
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- Broich, John (August 1, 2018). "There is nothing liberal about fascism". The Washington Post. Retrieved August 8, 2018.
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Critics have lambasted the doc, which currently boasts a zero rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
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