Lake of Fire Reviews
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.
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.
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.
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."