This controversial political film from directors Dinesh D’Souza and John Sullivan will invoke vastly different reactions from audience members. Many will find the film a patriotic, yet underreported, story on how our nation has prospered from our early years due to innovation, entrepreneurship, and capitalism--emerging as not only the wealthiest nation on the planet, but also the most generous. Just as many other viewers will leave the theaters feeling jilted by a political infomercial disguised as a documentary. Lastly, some moviegoers may be introduced to several political hot-button issues for the first time, and left reflecting on D’Souza’s historical data points on subjects such as relations with Mexico and Native Americans, slavery, imperialism, and capitalism. Regardless of a person’s position or thoughts on these subjects, this film accomplishes one significant feat—it empowers people to formulate one’s beliefs and positions, squaring the movie’s interpretation with their own life experiences.
The movie’s title alludes to the notion of how our world would exist today without the United States of America. However, D’Souza doesn’t go quite that far in the film, only providing visions of landmarks and key events or people which, if omitted, would have altered our nation’s course—leaving it up to us to contemplate the ramifications. He adroitly promotes how wealth was created from capitalism and American ingenuity. D’Souza also casts the importance of religion upon politics and our community—believing that the American people can do a better job of helping one another than an intrusive, big government attempting to fill that same role. D’Souza connects the dots on his understanding of U.S. history for viewers to either embrace or reject.
It can be argued that D’Souza is the Republican response to liberal activist, and director, Michael Moore. Using red meat political tones and sound bites, the director who brought us “2016: Obama’s America” just prior to the 2012 presidential election once again goes right after the Obama administration and Hillary Clinton in this feature. Unfortunately, once D’Souza changes course in the film from merely a look back at our nation’s collective rise in influence and power to a political referendum on President Obama and his associates, the movie’s gains become lost in the partisanship.
The film’s strength is that the topics it raises will cause discussions at family dinner tables, work centers and on the streets—the melting pot of America. Whether you agree or disagree with D’Souza’s “America” and his historical viewpoint, one can tally their own scorecard on the successes and failures of our nation—and isn’t that what makes our country so great? Freedom of thought where all are created equal, with “unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness”—as spelled out in the Declaration of Independence. Those rights securing our protection from a government “deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed”.
It’s a testament to our nation’s fabric that a controversial film taking aim, in part, at a sitting U.S. president and his policies can be aired and viewed by Americans. Imagine the consequences if such a film were made in Iran, the Middle East--or even North Korea. The fact that we can view this film, discuss it civilly, and come to our own conclusions is a success.