America: Imagine the World Without her (2014)
We went and saw America: Imagine the World Without Her.
It was pretty good, and the kind of Movie one should see on 4th of July.
All the criticisms I'll cover, are more nits to pick that major flaws. It flows well, it covers a lot, and helps remind people of missing context of many historical events.
It tries to cover too much though. There are four different threads is tries to cover:
- the revised history of America by the far left (1a - w/Obama & Hilary tie in's)
- reminding people of the whole context of that history
- The Title: What would the world look like if there had been no America
- As a bit of an aside, how does this revisionism impact the world around us and undermine the nation (but it's woven in and never matured as a separate plot-line).
So ironically, the least developed of these plot-lines is the title one (#3). It's a premise without any weight, and worthy of it's own movie, but this isn't it. If you go expecting what the Title says it is (a documentary on all the things America has done for the world), you'll be disappointed.
Since I read the book, I figured that was more naming device than plot device, and if you don't have that expectation and just want to see a good documentary on America History (and counter-balance the revisionism) from Dinesh, it's great.
The Book was much better at covering #1 and #2 (it had more time to build and support each point). Also the book was better at sequencing. It would tell you one false narrative, and then refute and support the real history with a lot more examples and points. The movie does ALL the false narratives up front, then does all the refutations -- but has less room for full coverage. It makes the front "downer" loaded, and the rest a bit more up-beat but lighter in total evidence than the book. I think it would have been better with the interleaved style of the book.
Also, the movie could have been tighter if it just covered #1 and #2. The items 3, and 4 (and 1a) often make it try to do too much or a little unfocused. That tightening might have given them more time to deepen some of their evidence.
That being said, my wife enjoyed the Movie having not read the book. And I enjoyed it having read it, and it had additional material that was not covered in the book. So it works well as a documentary, I just think it could have been better.
The critics who loved Michael Moore or Al Gore films, hated this one (low ratings), ironically, for using the same devices as a Michael Moore film (that they loved when he did it). But they're wrong on both accounts: techniques and entertainment.
Michael Moore and Al Gore used lies of omission, commission, and gotcha editing to intentionally deceive the public. They were film tricks to deceive the audience. This is known as grey or black propaganda. (Being willing to lie or distort the facts for an agenda). Dinesh has an agenda, and may sell his side of the story (and be thin on counter-balance in some places), but there's no tricky gotcha editing or misrepresentation. His facts are real facts, and there will not be court rulings on the errors or lies in the film, and not a half dozen sites dedicated to exposing the tricky edits and lies he did. This is called white propaganda: it sells a story from one side, and may not cover both sides neutrally, but it tells no lies and doesn't use deceptive techniques.
Conservatives are pounded with the liberal side of message in our media and schools, so it's not necessary to rehash every point, we've heard it all 1,000 times. While with the exception of a few outlets, you're far less likely to be bombarded with the Conservative, Tea Party or Libertarian, or just historically neutral views nearly as much. So it's not necessary to cover progressive dogma, because everyone knows it and can't avoid it. If it covered it deeper, it would have to refute it deeper: which would have made it drier but an even STRONGER refutation. (More like the book). So this is higher level, and more about entertainment with good facts that you can go verify, instead of playing textbook.
On Entertainment Value:
There's a huge disparity between user approval and reviewer approval. The reviewers liked Al Gore and Michael Moore films significantly more than the audiences did. It turns out the audiences were more skeptical of the error and gotcha laden documentaries that the critics loves. So the critics were way more infatuated with the black propaganda pieces than the public, which hints they're probably significantly to the left of the American viewing public. And to back that up, the audiences have 50-60+ point differences over liking this movie MORE than the critics do. Showing that the viewing public is far to the right of movie critics (and hinting strongly at why Newspapers have lost a ton of credibility and a lot of readership with the American public). I think that tells you a lot about the critics objectivity as well as how in touch with audiences they really are.
Movie critics often have a leftward slant that makes them droll and predictable. It also means if a movie is at all political, has anything that's politically incorrect, or can be re-imagined that way, then reviewers will likely get out of touch with the audience. Since I lean towards the audience preferences and away from marxism as movie-reviews, this spread (or the inverse of the reviewers opinions) can be a better indicator of how much I'll like a film than their actual reviews.
So if you're left of center, you should see it because you should be informed on what the other side believes and why. You'll hate it, but it'll make you more informed and aware of what they really think (not just what you think you know). And if you're center or right, you'll enjoy the feel good film that reminds of an American History you can be proud of, with a bit of frustration at how that history has been doctored and why.