Let The Fire Burn (2013)



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

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Movie Info

In the astonishingly gripping Let the Fire Burn, director Jason Osder has crafted that rarest of cinematic objects: a found-footage film that unfurls with the tension of a great thriller. On May 13, 1985, a longtime feud between the city of Philadelphia and controversial radical urban group MOVE came to a deadly climax. By order of local authorities, police dropped military-grade explosives onto a MOVE-occupied rowhouse. TV cameras captured the conflagration that quickly escalated-and resulted in the tragic deaths of eleven people (including five children) and the destruction of 61 homes. It was only later discovered that authorities decided to "...let the fire burn." Using only archival news coverage and interviews, first-time filmmaker Osder has brought to life one of the most tumultuous and largely forgotten clashes between government and citizens in modern American history. (c) Zeitgeist
Documentary , Special Interest
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Critic Reviews for Let The Fire Burn

All Critics (41) | Top Critics (22)

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.

Full Review… | June 13, 2014
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic

Jason Osder's stunning debut documentary offers a disturbing look at a forgotten tragedy.

Full Review… | June 13, 2014
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Top Critic

[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.

Full Review… | May 13, 2014
New York Times
Top Critic

"Let the Fire Burn" offers a searing picture of how dumb and dangerous humans can be.

Full Review… | January 22, 2014
Detroit News
Top Critic

It's scary as both a movie and a still-reverberating moment in time.

Full Review… | December 10, 2013
Top Critic

Brilliantly edited, the film moves back and forth in time, first tracking the events leading up to the confrontation through news reports of the day.

Full Review… | December 6, 2013
Globe and Mail
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Let The Fire Burn

Predecessor to the botched raid and further nonsense in Waco TX which was only a few years after this, Let The Fire Burn uses solely archival footage to tell this 1985 story with wild candor, heart, and shocking immediacy. Stunning, infuriating, amazingly emotional - the police commissioner and mayor decided to bomb a verbally hostile group camped out in a housing development and then let it burn with people inside, and the innocent neighboring houses burn down as well. The news cameras rolled during this whole incident, and later interviews are used as well to crushing effect. This is not an easy movie to experience, and yet it allows you to understand the human suffering on both sides of the controversy. You will also experience the aggravation, horror, and misunderstandings on all sides. A piercing, heart-felt take on a truly tragic set of circumstances. Don't miss this sobering testament. 5 out of 5

Thomas Porter
Thomas Porter

Mind-boggling to think this happened. A doc using only footage and no talking heads makes for an immersive experience.

Tim Greene
Tim Greene

This is how a documentary should be made, out of entirely archival footage showing both sides of the story. An amazing lesser known story similar to waco or ruby ridge but in an urban setting.

Alex Wolf Rkc
Alex Wolf Rkc

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