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Ghost Canyon

Downing of a Flag
(DVD / PG-13 / 2021 / PBS)

Overview: Downing of a Flag is a documentary film that focuses on the Confederate Battle flag and its impact on the people, politics, and perceptions of South Carolina and beyond.

DVD Verdict: Through firsthand interviews featuring various perspectives and a wealth of historical footage, Downing of a Flag traces the symbol’s controversial relationship with the Palmetto State, exploring its true meaning and how an unspeakable tragedy served as the catalyst for its long-debated removal.

The story begins with the end of the Civil War and chronicles the flag’s more than 150-year journey from the blood-soaked battlefields of Virginia to its use in American popular culture in the 1970s and 1980s, to its final removal from the South Carolina State House grounds in July 2015.

Preceded by the killing of nine Black parishioners at Charleston’s historic Mother Emanuel AME Church by a white supremacist, the Confederate Battle flag’s furling and the days and actions that led to that event could represent the final shots and battles of the American Civil War.

Watching along with this documentary, it is obvious from the very off that depending on who you speak with, the Confederate flag means one of two things. It either represents racism or Southern heritage, but regardless, the sight of the flag certainly brings about strong feelings on both sides.

Downing of a Flag explores both points of view but ultimately, this film is about how the flag came down following the racist shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

It’s about the history of South Carolina and the South. The doc is also about how the flag would represent the state in an overall national conversation.

Despite representing an end to a significant chapter in United States history, Downing of a Flag shows that the events of 2015 did not complete the story.

Instead, we continue to see the flag used as a symbol, and as a result, it continues to haunt American democracy.

In closing, if you’ve been following the nationwide conversation about removing Confederate statues, two-part documentary Downing of a Flag serves as complementary viewing.

A number of politicians offer their thoughts on the matter. Former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley only appears during archival footage. It would certainly be interesting to get her thoughts on camera.

Among the prominent interview subjects are U.S. Congressman James Clyburn and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Andrew Young. Watch and learn, is all I can honestly say here. Please. Thank you. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

Official PBS DVD Purchase Link