Lake of Fire

Lake of Fire

Film review by: Witney Seibold




            13 years in the making, “Lake of Fire” is as complete a documentary one will probably ever hope to find. Not only does it meticulously follow a complicated issue like abortion in America, but miraculously includes, wholly, both sides of the argument. Director Tony Kaye manages to get intellects and crackpots from both sides, detail a history of the issue through nothing but interviews, and present it all in a beautifully photographed non-polemical package. Surely many of the people interviewed are being polemical, and some even outright preach to the camera, but Kaye manages to set us at a distance, so we can see the anger and not get caught up in it. “Lake of Fire” is one of the finest documentary films of the last five years. No matter what your stance on the issue of abortion, “Lake of Fire” will challenge you, frighten you, shock you, and force you to ask yourself the hard questions.


            Indeed, many of the interviewees begin asking the hard questions after a while. Questions like “why is the Bible important to you?” and “Why is killing wrong?” begin to fly. If you are outraged by the killing of human fetuses, why haven’t you thought of the mother? What is it about sexuality that frightens you? Why is it o.k. to kill a doctor performing abortions, and not a fetus? Conversely: If it’s o.k. to abort a pregnancy, why do all of the women interviewd who have gone through an abortion describe it as “one of the hardest things” they’ve had to do? If a fetus is a human being, why aren’t they counted by the census? If a fetus can be freely aborted, why is it so shocking and moving to see the tiny severed limbs of an abortion in a tray of gore?


            Kaye does not blench from any of these questions or any of these images. He does indeed show women weeping after they’ve had an abortion. He does show close-ups of post abortion fetuses, scrambled and torn, in a tray of gore (and luckily the photography is in black and white, so it’s a little easier to take).


            Eventually, the film gets to the heart of the matter, and shows that America has, over the years, been divided between a secular society and a new breed of Biblical literalists that has sprung up only in the last 20 years or so. Kaye never points out which of the two is the better way to live, although it is the Biblical literalists, or Fundamentalists, who are noisiest. Both sides describe the debate as a “war.” Both agree that murder is wrong. The only thing in “Lake of Fire” that really gets the short end of the stick is the folk song, as both sides sing folk songs, and all of them sound corny and horrible.


            Noam Chomsky appears in the film, and is characteristically well-spoken and intelligent. A Baptist minister appears in the film ranting how the Bill Clinton preaches directly to children that you should be having sex with a condom right now. Drag queens are seen frightening the squares. In one interview, a pro-life protestor mulls over in his head whether or not blasphemers (i.e. anyone who says “God Damn”) should be put to death. He comes to the conclusion that they should. Even Norma McCorvey (better known to the world as Jane Roe of Roe v. Wade) is interviewed about her stance as the pro-choice icon, and her eventual attempt to reclaim God and stand out against abortion.


            If you have any stake in the argument about abortion, its politics, its ethics, its social acceptance, its religious significance than you must see “Lake of Fire.” It’s been said the best way to become a better debater is to read exclusively the articles with which you actively disagree. Tony Kaye has provided us with an article with which we can all agree and disagree.

Published in: on May 8, 2008 at 8:51 pm  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. hello can i get this film??
    i really need this cuz i have to researh about abortion now. but it’s very hard to get this film in Korea. please help me!! plz contact me by e-mail, if you can!!

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