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9 Ratings

The Entire History of the Louisiana Purchase

Directed by Joshua Oppenheimer
United States, 1998


The story of a woman who has an immaculate conception and murders her infant in a microwave as a take-off point for a nightmarish critique of congenital American insanity. The film combines documentary, home movies, archival footage, and fiction to form a new type of film: the fictional documentary.

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The Entire History of the Louisiana Purchase Directed by Joshua Oppenheimer

Awards & Festivals

Chicago International Film Festival

1998 | Winner: Best Experimental Short Film (Gold Hugo)

Critics reviews

If The Act of Killing uses reenactments to elicit horrible truths, Oppenheimer’s shenanigans here and apocalyptic voiceover (drawled by the microwaving mother character) conjure the unreality of fringe belief systems and myth creation. The raucous clip montages suggest a debt to Craig Baldwin or Bruce Conner, but Oppenheimer’s theatrical mélange is of its decade, showing a younger generation digging into American ur-history.
July 01, 2015
While Louisiana Purchase feels at times like a mere succession of sideshow freaks – it seems to lack the brave humanism of The Act of Killing in favor of more grotesque portraiture – the inscrutable way in which it snakes from subject to subject, from potential “documentary” to dreamlike fabrication, and from retro interview footage to expressively blotchy 8mm experimentation gives it a pulse that’s uniquely unnerving.
October 17, 2013
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