movies, music and everything else

This blog is about pretty much what the title implies... movies, music and everything else.

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Monday, October 15, 2007


When it comes to subjects that it is best to stay away from in conversation, the debate over abortion is one that is at the top of the list. It is almost a pointless conversation. People have made up their mind one way or another and it will only lead to an argument or a fight. Knowing that, I walked into the new film by Tony Kaye (AMERICAN HISTORY X) very curious and open minded. It is a graphic look at BOTH sides of the abortion argument. Not only that, but it is black and white and runs two and a half hours long. Needless to say, the theater was almost completely empty. What a shame…
LAKE OF FIRE is one of the very best documentaries that I have seen in quite some time specifically for the reasons why it will be controversial. First, there is the graphic nature of the film. It is a film about abortion and in order to properly portray the issue at hand, there is a responsibility by the filmmaker to show exactly what is up for debate. There are two abortions shown in the film and while they are extremely difficult to watch, I believe they are completely necessary. It prevents either side from boiling this down to a talking point and makes it real… I would imagine too real for some. While the footage is graphic, it is not gratuitous, never using these images to sway the viewer one way or another; it simply presents it as what it is.
What sets LAKE OF FIRE above many of the other documentaries of recent years is its impartiality. There is no judgment here, only facts. It presents each side of the argument in an equal and compelling way. This is a very complex issue with many sides and cannot (and should not) be simplified to a talking point. This film should make anyone who watches it think and re-think their stance on abortion, as it presents the other side. Watching the film, I have no idea what Kaye’s stance is on the issue and that is fantastic. He is simply there to present the facts in an interesting and compelling way, not to judge. This manner of filmmaking stands in contrast to “documentarians” like Michael Moore, who set out to make a point with their film and take the facts that support their argument and twist the ones that don’t. Kaye spends a great deal of time with each side, both the extremists and the more rational, and asks the audience to make up their own mind.
This filmmaking is fantastic here. The use of the black and white photography works on many levels. The first and maybe the most obvious is that it makes the graphic scenes more tolerable to sit through (if anything could). The other is the artistic aspect it adds to the storytelling. This is a beautiful looking film with high contrast and wonderfully dynamic framing, making the visuals as compelling as the arguments. Kaye shot this movie himself over the last 14 years, but kept a style throughout, maintaining a stylistic coherence. The use of other footage intercut with interviews and footage that Kaye was able to capture at rallies and events is amazing. The way that he goes back and forth between the different points of view is done in a way that keeps you unbalanced and on your toes, never knowing which side of the fence you are on while watching. It is a very delicate subject and if handled at all improperly, would be painful at this running time. While it does run two and a half hours, LAKE OF FIRE never felt too long, but there is enough information and opinions presented that after watching it, I felt exhausted.
This is a movie that everyone should see. It is tough to sit through at times, but it is well worth it. I only hope that the people that do go are able to walk into the theater with an open mind and actually listen to what the film has to say. It does not tell you what the right answer is, but it does present both sides well and impartially. I hope that LAKE OF FIRE starts people talking about this issue and about the more complex facets of the subject. My fear is that people will ignore this film and any legitimate discussion and hold on to their pre-established stance, whether it is thought out or not.


Anonymous watch movies said...

Lake of Fire is stunning movie. I seen it twice and equally enjoyed every time. This the film that I felt on myself that could be one of reason for liking it.

11:58 AM  

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