Civil War (Or, Who Do We Think We Are) is a timely documentary that is more than just another look at the racial divide. Instead, it visits various places around the country to see how the Civil War has been taught. By looking at how those four years are remembered, celebrated, and commemorated, the film gives insight into one of the biggest hot button issues in our country.
Some will be turned off by the idea of the documentary. Few people are willing to accept the things they have been taught their entire lives might be wrong. The interviews in the film are very illuminating. Filmmaker Rachel Boynton poses what seems to be a simple question. Why was the Civil War fought? Surprisingly (or maybe not) some feel it was a battle about economics and not slavery.
Therein lies the crux of Civil War. It examines the current race problems in America by looking to students, teachers, and schools. The documentary goes all over the country and it is interesting to see how differently things are taught in different parts of the United States.
What makes the documentary so fascinating is all the differing ways people were taught. Civil War is less about people being wrong as it is a point of view. No one is being taught incorrect facts; they are just learning from opposing sides. For example, the slave holder will have a different story to tell than the slave.
Civil War does not just focus on the tumultuous four year period. It also explores the Reconstruction period. These will be some of the most captivating parts of the documentary. The talk about racism not just being confined to the southern states is not a shocker; the idea the South won Reconstruction is.
Racism and the war between the states are familiar topics. Civil War (Or, Who Do We Think We Are) covers new ground by focusing on not what people are taught, but how. This unique take makes for an engaging, if sometimes disappointing look at the country.
Civil War (Or, Who Do We Think We Are) opens in select theaters September 17
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