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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I think this documentary would be far more balanced if it were expanded into a TV miniseries. The theatrical version presents the logical arguments from both sides of this massive issue, but it also shows over an hour of the footage related to the violence committed by the most irrational anti-abortion individuals and organizations. In that way, it seemed to me that the most sensationalist, visceral footage was being left in the theatrical release to make it more entertaining.
And yet, there are incredible moments in the film that are not sensationalist, or unfair to the anti-abortion side. For example, the film begins at the Capitol Mall in 1993, with a peaceful protest aganst abortion, with participants sharing stores and speaking out. A male speaker was microphoned beautifully and we see and feel his genuine emotion, even if it seems irrational to supporters of abortion such as myself. (I should add that the sound in this movie is first-rate - voices in various mediums are captured beautifully, so much so, I was conscious of just how good the audio was). And another example of the film being fair to the anti-abortion side was showing us how a ministry in Dallas was able to befriend Norma McCorvey (Jane Roe) and give her a happier life. It clearly shows how the pro-abortion side failed her. The "Jesus Freaks" didn't snatch her away. The pro-abortion side let her go while we are all into ourselves celebrating the legalization of abortion. She was home alone, receiving death threats, afraid to go out. And who came to her aid? Not my side. Amazing how this film reveals that (there is a shot in this movie that just has to be seen to be believed - you will know it when you see it....it shows Norma McCorvey at her new job....pay attention, it is amazing).
The film ends with a real procedure performed on a woman in Minneapolis who is less than 10 weeks pregnant. We see everything, including the blob of tissue that is taken from her womb. But more important, we see a 5 minute shot of her, telling us how she is relieved and tired, but also saddened and in emotional pain. It brought the theater to tears, and I can see how people on both sides of the issue will find some vindication in that final shot. On one hand, the patient is clearly relieved and has no regrets. On the other hand, she is saddened because she has made a momentous decision to choose her life over the life of an unknown child (a 'what if'). It is incredibly powerful film-making.
I thought if Errol Morris sees this, he might kick himself. He has spent 30 years making documentaries and still has not gotten a shot like that in the can. He's still the best documentary maker out there. But to hear Tony Kaye tell the audience in the Q&A that this labor of love is the result of a happy accident after being drawn into a major issue in US society, that's amazing. Great art is often the result of an accident or taking a risk. This is one such example.
This film gives us John Ford / Sergio Leone-like close-ups of faces. That, and the impressive audio, make this a very intimate work.
Everyone who sees this movie wishes it had more information. For example, the Catholic pro-abortion activist featured in the film was ex-communicated from the Church. Would have helped to be told that? I would think so. I would have wanted some clarification on the age of the fetus' shown. There is a graphic abortion early in the film that shows what looks like a 20-weeker having a procedure done. The fetus is torn apart, and we see eyes, legs, hands, feet. I would want movie goers to know that this is a BIG fetus and doctors don't see this every week in the OR or clinic. The vast majority of abortions are done before 10 weeks, in a short procedure in a clinic. And most states have a 22-week limit on abortion. Bet you didn't know that. The anti-abortion side wants you to believe that abortions are legal until the day before birth. That is not true at all. 22 weeks.
So you can see that I wanted more details. Everyone wanted more details. One audience member wanted to see more women being shown on the anti-abortion side. I know they are out there, but like the clinic patient who agreed to be filmed, they are very difficult to find.
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