Mar 3, 2009

Why haven't you seen... 10

Lake of Fire (2006)
Dir: Tony Kaye

What’s It All About?

American History X director Kaye’s passion project, Lake of Fire is a two and a half hour, black and white documentary, shot over 15 years, about the fight over the issue of abortion in the USA.

Why Haven’t You Seen It?
It’s a two and a half hour, black and white documentary, about abortion. It doesn’t exactly sound like an enjoyable way to spend an afternoon. It also had very limited distribution, and is sometimes extremely graphic in its depiction of its subject.

Why Should You See It?
Lake of Fire may be a brutally confrontational film, full of difficult images and opinions, but it is also a scrupulously even-handed one. The lunatic fringes of the ‘pro-life’ movement, who can be heard suggesting that blasphemers be executed, and justifying the murder of abortionists are balanced by the more reflective voices of those who view the pro-life position as that of regarding ALL life as worthy of protection. On the other side we see the caring way a woman is dealt with as she goes through an abortion, but this is countered not just by her trauma after the event but by graphic images of aborted babies, many in pieces, many recognisably human.

Unlike, for example, Michael Moore, Tony Kaye never tells you what to think. Instead Lake of Fire presents raw information and opinion, and then he leaves you to reflect on it (and you will, because many of the images in this film won’t be going away any time soon) and make your own decisions about where you fall in the politics of this issue.

As well as being a genuinely informative and open-minded film Lake of Fire, despite its frequently appalling imagery, is often beautiful to look at. The high contrast black and white provides a little distance from some of the nastiest of the images, but it also makes for a more striking looking film, particularly when Kaye films some of the ghoulish signs used by groups like Operation Rescue.

Lake of Fire is a challenging film, dense, packed with information and full of opinions that range from applause worthy to completely repellent (whatever your own views). You’re unlikely to enjoy it, but it still needs to be seen because it really is, in cinematic terms, the last word on this debate.

How Can You See It?

Both R1 and R2 dvds are available, and they are much the same. Each is in the original aspect ratio and features only the film's trailer as extra material. Unusually both are unrated (due to the material being judged exempt from BBFC classification) but this film deals in graphic and upsetting images and I wouldn’t suggest it for anyone under 15.

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