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Smartly edited and heartbreakingly compelling, Let the Fire Burn uses archival footage to uncover a troubling -- and still deeply resonant -- chapter in American history. Read critic reviews

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Let the Fire Burn Photos

Movie Info

Filmmaker Jason Osder illustrates how prejudice, intolerance and fear can lead to unthinkable acts of violence.

Cast & Crew

Andrew Herwitz
Executive Producer

News & Interviews for Let the Fire Burn

Critic Reviews for Let the Fire Burn

All Critics (46) | Top Critics (27) | Fresh (45) | Rotten (1)

  • The violent clash between constitutional freedoms and social society, not to mention the racial conflict, make for a very American story.

    February 25, 2019 | Full Review…
  • There have been many documentaries comprised entirely out of archival footage, but few as powerfully and masterfully structured as this one.

    March 28, 2017 | Full Review…
  • Director Jason Osder's grieving account of the deadly police assault on the MOVE collective's fortified Philadelphia row house works small, continuous miracles with a variety of existing footage.

    June 13, 2014 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…
  • [Osder] cuts between news footage of the events as they unfurled and testimony from hearings held afterward to create a stark, nonjudgmental portrait of an incident that probably needn't have happened.

    May 13, 2014 | Full Review…
  • "Let the Fire Burn" offers a searing picture of how dumb and dangerous humans can be.

    January 23, 2014 | Rating: B | Full Review…
  • It's scary as both a movie and a still-reverberating moment in time.

    December 10, 2013 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Let the Fire Burn

  • Oct 06, 2013
    A documentary earlier this year on Mumia Abu-Jamal piqued my interested in and reminded me about MOVE, a radical organization that had clashed with the police in Philadelphia in the 1970's and 1980's. Along comes "Let the Fire Burn," a documentary that makes excellent use of and relies exclusively on archival footage, especially that of a hearing into the events of May 13, 1985 that left 11 members of MOVE dead, including several children, and a neighborhood destroyed, as city authorities increasingly let events spiral out of control. On the other hand, the format leaves room for some blind spots, namely the alley behind the MOVE headquarters where it is implied that Philadelphia policemen may have gathered to settle scores from a previous confrontation with MOVE that left a policeman dead and for which 9 MOVE members were convicted on sentences lasting decades. At the same time, three policemen were acquitted on assault charges of a MOVE member, even though they were captured on videotape. At first, in the 1970's, MOVE claimed to be a self-sufficient organization funded on self-defense means like the Black Panthers, as one of the founders had been in the Black Panthers, too, while being labeled a cult and terrorist organization by outsiders.(There is nothing so frightening to a racist than an armed black man.) Here, some more blind spots arise, as questions arise about the internal activities of MOVE, as they also angered their neighbors, and eventually the city government. Its later incarnation in 1984-1985 was even more combative, and I would not disagree with a commenter, that at the time, they sought to directly confront the police, a battle they could not hope to win.
    Walter M Super Reviewer

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