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Lake of Fire (2006)

Unrated  |   |  Documentary  |  3 October 2007 (USA)
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Ratings: 8.3/10 from 2,081 users   Metascore: 83/100
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A graphic documentary on both sides of the abortion debate.



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Credited cast:
Bill Baird ...
Himself - Activist
Flip Benham ...
Himself - Director, Operation Rescue National
Dallas Blanchard ...
Himself - Professor of Sociology, University of West Florida
John Britton ...
Himself - Ladies Health Center, Pensacola (as Dr. John Britton)
Pat Buchanan ...
Himself - Republican Presidential Candidate
John Burt ...
Himself - Activist
Andrew Cabot ...
Himself - Activist
Himself - Professor of Linguistics, MIT
Frederick Clarkson ...
Himself - Author
Alan M. Dershowitz ...
Himself - Professor of Law, Harvard (as Alan Dershowitz)
Joycelyn Elders ...
Herself - Surgeon General, 1993-1994 (archive footage)
Kevin Fitzpatrick ...
Himself - Department of Sociology, University of Alabama (as Prof. Kevin Fitzpatrick)
Mary Lou Greenberg ...
Herself - Refuse and Resist
Michael F. Griffin ...
Himself - Convicted of Abortion Related Murder
David Gunn Jr. ...
Himself - Son of David Gunn


A graphic documentary on both sides of the abortion debate.

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Release Date:

3 October 2007 (USA)  »

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$2,559 (USA) (5 October 2007)


$23,807 (USA) (2 November 2007)

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Did You Know?


Noam Chomsky: You are not going to get the answers from holy texts. You are not going to get the answers from biologists. These are matters of human concern that have to be discussed seriously...
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Referenced in Shut Up and Talk: Lindsay Ellis (2014) See more »

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User Reviews

a documentary that lets you make up your own mind
27 May 2008 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

We've been taught to believe that the purest and best documentaries are those that take a definitive stand on an issue. Such a one-sided approach is supposed to bespeak a righteous passion on the part of a filmmaker - as if dogmatism, in and of itself, were an indisputable virtue. But what if the issue at hand is so morally complex that it simply doesn't lend itself to the strident arguments and easy answers of a black-and-white diatribe? Might it not, then, be best to drop the "know-it-all" posture of the partisan zealot and, instead, attempt to look at both sides of the issue from a position of objectivity and fairness?

Well, that is exactly what filmmaker Tony Kaye has done with "Lake of Fire," a documentary on abortion that attempts to examine both sides of the issue in as unbiased and evenhanded a way as possible. For once, the impassioned spokespersons in both the "pro-life" and "pro-choice" camps are free to have their say and to make their case, without commentary or condemnation from a judgmental third party. In so doing, he has fashioned an unflinching and uncompromising look at one of the issues that most divides Americans today - and will surely do so for a very long time to come..

Watching "Lake of Fire" is a bit like being a ping pong ball in a high-stakes table tennis match. Just as we find ourselves agreeing with a representative from one side of the equation, we are bandied back to the opposing side by what appear to be equally compelling arguments emanating from a spokesperson there. And back and forth we go. For while there are "nutcases" and "screwballs" on both sides of the divide (and they certainly get ample opportunity to voice their views here), many of the people who are interviewed offer sound, reasoned arguments for the positions they take. At a lengthy two hours and thirty-two minutes, Kaye's film has plenty of time to take us into the emotionally-charged world of abortion politics, represented most vividly by the impassioned rallies and protest marches that all too often devolve into name-calling shouting matches that cloud the issue and further alienate those in the political center. Moreover, in what is essentially a new American "civil war," both sides come to the battlefield armed with gruesome images of those who have already perished in the conflict - the pro-lifers of dismembered fetuses, the pro-choicers of murdered doctors and victims of "back alley" abortions.

Kaye is to be particularly commended for not sanitizing or sugarcoating the actual abortion process, clearly assuming that we are grown up enough to face the truth without the need for coyness or comforting filters. Intriguingly, Kaye has opted to film his movie in black-and-white rather than color, a very shrewd and wise decision, since the stark imagery serves to underline the seriousness and gravity of the issue.

If there's a weakness to the film it is that there may be a bit too much emphasis on the movers and shakers in each of the groups and not enough on the ordinary, average citizens whose lives have been directly affected or severely altered by abortion (or the lack thereof). The movie does, however, end on such a note, taking us along with a young woman as she goes through the step-by-step process of an actual abortion. It reminds us that, after all the speeches and marches, all the clinic protests and killing of doctors, the issue finally comes down to an individual woman and the agonizing decision she alone is being called upon to make.

With his film, Kaye clearly wants to make us think, but he doesn't tell us HOW to think - and that's what separates his work from that of so many of his film-making contemporaries. How people will react to this film is anyone's guess. All I know is that, no matter which side of the struggle you may come down on - or even if you have somehow managed to remain scrupulously neutral about it up to this point - "Lake of Fire" will indeed make you think long and hard about the issue.

12 of 13 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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