Lake of Fire Reviews

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Mr Awesome
Super Reviewer
February 27, 2009
An epic, nearly 3 hour documentary spanning over the course of 15 years about the highly controversial subject of abortion. It doesn't shy away from difficult-to-look-at images: it shows an actual abortion taking place as well as the remains of the aborted 5-month old fetus, it shows the bodies of Doctors gunned down by fanatics, and it shows pictures of the bodies of women who tried to give themselves "coat hanger abortions". Let me get back to the abortion shown, it's graphic and pretty hard to take, and yet, anyone who's pro-choice needs to see this and then ask themselves if they still feel the same. It takes all denial out of the supporters mind, they can't pretend it's "just a mass of cells" anymore. So, the question is no longer, "is it a human life?" or "is it a baby?", but what are the consequences of this child being born how will society deal with it? The film points out the hypocrisy of conservatives who in one breath will condemn abortion but in the other vote against sex education, birth control and welfare programs (apparently they're only concerned with babies before they're born). Being against birth control is an especially telling sign showing that many who are pro-life are more importantly anti-sex. Of course the film also focuses on the fanatical who whip their followers into a frenzy, and the consequences of that frenzy when one of their followers is unstable, showing the murder of Dr. Gunn among others. Of course, Doctor killers and fire bombers are a fringe group, but it's amazing how far-reaching their influence can be (when they show pictures of republican presidents with those who would later kill, it's especially chilling). Abortion is never painted in a glamorous light, and it's certainly not enjoyable for a woman to go through one. It's something no woman goes into lightly. "Lake of Fire" doesn't settle any arguments, it makes them and lets the viewer decide.
Super Reviewer
February 15, 2013
Lake of Fire is graphic documentary on abortion directed by Tony Kaye (American History X, Detachment). It's journalistic reporting showing both sides. The interviews are with doctors, rednecks, and everything in between. It showed graphic images of legal and back alley abortions, that disturbs anyone on either sides. I'm still pro-choice and pro-life people will still be pro-life. It's more historical than scientific, which is fine, but I didn't learn many new facts. Also the run time is too long at 152 minutes, in that amount of time everything got repetitive and already said.
Super Reviewer
December 8, 2010
'Lake of Fire' is incredibly difficult to watch at moments, specifically the images of the abortion process or pictures of women who unsuccessfully tried to perform an abortion on themselves, but its one of the best documentaries I've ever seen. It shows the wide range of beliefs pretty favorably ranging from sane to crazy and while it slightly leans in favor of the pro-choice movement, its still one of the most unbiased portrayals of the abortion issue that any filmmaker has dared to make. The most important thing that the film shows us is that Americans have a very hard time with rational debate and discussion regardless of their opinion or political affiliation.
Super Reviewer
December 11, 2007
Exhaustively thorough portrait of the abortion issue in the United States.
½ November 1, 2010
A very good documentary on one of the most sensative subjects in this country. Without spoiling anything, I will just say it's very interesting what became of the woman who was the focal point in the Roe v. Wade case that made abortion legal.
May 24, 2010
This is one of those fiercely heated cultural issues in the USA, and it is mostly fought by the people you see in this movie. But, at least this movie does one good thing, show the people getting them. It is well produced and well edited and does what it can to be unbiased. But just their selection of people to interview gives us its opinion. And this is really the beauty of this movie.

There are loonies on both sides, but this movie really shows that the loonies on the anti-abortion side are often times just flat out crazy hypocrites while the pro-abortion people are often crass and condescending. But it was summed up well by Dershowitz or Chomsky in that both sides are right because there is a really bad other side either way. As a movie, it really does show the bad of both sides. Hard viewing, but intriguing.
April 29, 2010
This documentary is a necessary resource for anyone who wants see the face of abortion in the United States. Whether you are pro or anti abortion rights, you should watch this documentary. You will be surprised how much you will learn.
½ February 25, 2010
I'm versed in the abortion issue, but I wanted to know what this documentary would communicate to the illiterate audience; i.e. We cinephiles. There's nothing here that would really convince opposing sides to convert. It's rather unbiased and it speaks about nothing new, except, it sort of epitomizes the stupidity of fundamentalist troglodytes. There's way too much emotion clouding people's rationality that it frustrates. If I was a woman, I'd regularly get abortions just to piss off the sentimentalist unwavering anti-freedomers.
½ October 24, 2008
Great movie that effectively shows both sides of the abortion debate. I don't think that the message it gave out was biased. It gets the information out in the open and lets the viewer decide for himself what he supports.
March 20, 2009
Amazing, great documentary. I love that they held nothing back, and I love the use of black and white throughout. It totally reinforces why I love documentaries.
December 25, 2008
Heart-wrenching and extremely hard-to-watch documentary chronicling the pro-choice/pro-life movements of the past seventy years or so. Wisely shot in black and white to give it that cold, eerie feel director Tony Kaye (American History X) provides us with another fascinating and extraordinary motion picture, one just wishes it was shorter than 152 minutes. Grade: B+
September 24, 2008
This movie scared me in SO many ways that I'm STILL trying to process it all. Nonetheless: beautifully filmed, particularly for a documentary. Fully captures the complexity of the issue. And all the bits and pieces are weaved together nicely. My only only complaint: The score was a bit overwhelming at times, and DEFINITELY reminiscent of AMERICAN HISTORY X. Nonetheless, I highly recommend. Though it makes for a really really rough viewing, and you may wanna watch it in parts.
½ August 17, 2008
In Lake of Fire, a film that Tony Kaye- director behind American History X (which he wanted to be named under the pseudonym 'Humpty Dumpty' following a loss of final cut)- has been shooting footage for over fifteen years, is about all you need to see to know the fundamentalist and existentialist ramifications on the abortion-in-America issue. It covers all of the pro-life advocates, the murders of doctors and bombings of clinics, footage of actual abortions, and even an interview with the real-life 'Roe' from Roe v. Wade. It covers about as much ground, in interviews and footage of those at rallies and on the street and so on and so forth, that can be covered in two and a half hours.

But what builds up Kaye's film to such a potent focus is that Kaye doesn't let out necessarily what *his* stance is on the issue. I think this was the way to go, and not necessarily because it would be insensitive one way or the other- in order to take as objective a stance as possible (which, in this case, is so next to impossible because of the subjective point for a woman when it comes time to decide on the pregnancy), it works best to let the sides speak for themselves. As it turns out, he doesn't let the pro-choice crowd be the only voices of reason either; one actually sees, when there isn't total crazy Bible-thumping rhetoric, some sound arguments against abortion. And why not? It's one of the murkiest of all issues in the annals of history, not just American. And as we learn painfully in Lake of Fire, no matter what the most savage and hypocritical of the maniacs who try and stop abortion practices and doctors (in the old Malcolm X 'by any means necessary' mold), women will always get abortions if it comes down to it.

Kaye's scope is large and all encompassing, with interviews from the likes of pragmatic minded Noam Chomsky and Alan Dershwitz (the latter's parable about the Rabbi hits it the nail on the head, if there could be a nail in this), to intelligent pro-lifer Nat Hentoff, to Roe (real name Norma McCorvey) who got converted to being pro-life after setting the stage for all of this in the 70s, to the clean-cut psycho Paul Hill. Then there's everyone in-between, from radio show hosts to priests and pastors (one of which, an uproarious 'Lamb' protector), and then to doctors and professors. Not one word is wasted, which is staggering unto itself for over two and a half hours.

What one sees is the issue of choice in general, but also the nature of zealousness. To be sure, the pro-choice crowd are far less zealous than those who use the bible (or the Pope or just any thoughts about heaven or hell in general and who they think will go to where or not) as a blanket of protection. And Kaye's style for this is like that of mourning for lack of disagreeing to agree, and vice-versa and in-between. His cinematography shoots things in a stark, gray tone, while Anne Dudley's music- very akin to American History X- is that of the utmost tragedy. There are many beautifully shot scenes, from close-ups to cut-aways, but one that strikes me the most is during the Q&A at a doctor's office with a woman who is about to get an abortion.

As far as the issue itself and how viewers will take to it... It's not cut and dry. It won't reveal to you anything that might change your opinion, if it's already steadfast, about the issue. What Kaye does do, and it's a brave feat, is to not candy-coat a thing, to be provocative but not to a point of no return, to make clear what is at stake in what it means for a human being to take a life, any life, and how we approach that. As a man I will never have to make that choice of 'do I or don't I' in the first trimester. But as Lake of Fire makes perfectly clear, it's a civil rights issue through and through. It also makes for some fantastic cinema through someone as meticulous and exemplary a filmmaker as the (unprolific) Kaye.
½ June 25, 2008
I'm kinda creeped out with watching abortion procedures but the scenes (about 2) weren't very graphic or anything. Really good doc on abortion. Took off for the overwrought music.
June 1, 2008
Amazing, though by no means easy to watch. Harrowing documentary that equally balances all sides, and is as infuriating as it is fascinating. A must see for anyone with an opinion on the abortion debate.
½ April 17, 2008
Probably the most complete and non partial documentary on Abortion that I have ever seen. This shows the issue from every concievable angle, including those that will DISTURB people that don't have a strong stomach. It didn't make me change my views (Pro Choice), but I can certainly see the reasons behind the Pro Life movement more. HIGHLY reccomended, if you can take it.
½ April 5, 2008
extensive piece on the issue of abortion in america. covers both sides of the argument very well with some very graphic content of abortions and their result, physically and emotionally.
½ May 19, 2007
This is an excellent documentary that deals with the issue of abortion in America. It's very well done and attempts to show the different sides to the argument. Is it biased? You decide.
February 15, 2014
"Lake of Fire" depicts abortion in the United States, and the conflict of pro-choice and pro-life (propagated by the fundamentalist Religious Right.) While I understand the value of wanting to save a human life, this documentary exposes the religious position of pro-life for it's true horrible position. It is not a position of the value of human life from personal moral principles derived from intelligent thought.

This documentary demonstrates the well-known fact that their pro-life values are based on "God, Jesus, and the Bible tell us so," and a position of giving up personal responsibility for doing God's Will. They misrepresent Biblical scripture, as they do with all Christian doctrine, to promote their own agenda. The irony is the individuals in the film who contradict their values by murdering doctors for murdering children. One of them declares "abortionists are murderers, murderers should be executed," and yet when he is sentenced to death, the religious become angry at the state's judgment. What's even more disturbing is how they justify using murder, terrorism, and harassment as having been effective ways of stopping abortion clinics. Clearly a show that Christian values are like human values, as Noam Chomsky states "The values we hold are not absolute. They are always contingent. They conflict, and life is made up of decision and complicated situations in cases of conflicting values."

The bible does not support Christian family values. It does not support Christian values of motherhood and the value of human life. Perhaps no other literature holds more contempt for women, children, human life, and the natural occurrences of a woman's body related to her reproductive system (childbirth, menstruation, etc.) The FACT is that Christian values are based on delusions that are not supported by evidence including the doctrine of the bible.
½ November 5, 2013
"There are still things I need to do before I have a child, like finish college, and have a job . . . and a marriage." The camera doesn't show her face. The rumbling machine makes a sudden scream, like the sound of a drill bit when it comes to a screeching halt. "In just a few minutes, we're able to facilitate her decision to not be a parent," the doctor says jauntily. "Now it's just a matter of piecing the fetal tissue back together." He sifts through the machine's contents, holding up a tiny human arm, a splintered leg, and a ghoulish head. The bulging, empty eyes stare into the camera.

Yes, Tony Kaye's Lake of Fire is graphic. Shot entirely in black and white, the grayscale film only mutes the viewer's horror. Nevertheless, this documentary isn't so much about abortion as it is the people who care about abortion. Just because Kaye never speaks during the film's 152-minutes-the narrative lumbers along through a combination of interviews and archival footage shot over the course of 16 years-doesn't mean he has nothing to say. Repeated juxtapositions of religious imagery and spiritual rhetoric are not-so-subtle suggestions that abortion wars transcend the political.

Lake of Fire fetishizes zealous fundamentalists on both sides. Pro-choice activists are seen carrying a cross emblazoned with the words "cross of oppression, keep abortion legal" and shock-rocker femme fatales perform vulgar acts with coat-hangers. Most of the film follows anti-abortion activists who perceive themselves to be vehicles of God's wrath upon abortionists. The interview subjects that Kaye chooses betray his interest in militant subculture, a fascination he carries over from his previous work, American History X, which examined neo-NAZI skinheads. Unfortunately, this approach paints the entire pro-life movement with the brush of violent extremism. But the film also shows how ugly abortion is, which casts the vigilantes in a more sympathetic light.

Though Kaye claims neutrality on abortion, his inclusion of a clip from "The Hard Truth" may reveal the motivation for his graphic documentary. "Some might ask why a video of this sort should even be necessary," the clip's narrator says. "Teachers don't show bloody World War II footage to manipulate students emotionally, they use it because the NAZI death camps represent an evil so inexpressible that lectures alone could never adequately describe it. Until you've seen the pictures . . . you can't begin to know how evil it is."
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