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The Anatomy of Hate (2009)

Reveals the shared narratives found in individual and collective ideologies of hate, and how we as a species can overcome them. For six years the filmmaker worked with unprecedented access ... See full summary »


Mike Ramsdell
1 win. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Justin Barrett ... Narrator (voice)
Kerry Noble Kerry Noble ... Himself
Terrence Deacon Terrence Deacon ... Himself
Fred Phelps ... Himself
Sheldon Solomon Sheldon Solomon ... Himself
Shirley Phelps-Roper ... Herself (as Shirley Phelps)
Margie Phelps Margie Phelps ... Herself
Rick Smith Rick Smith ... Himself
Sam Keen Sam Keen ... Himself
Billy Roper Billy Roper ... Himself
Elik El Hanan Elik El Hanan ... Himself
Bob Fenton Bob Fenton ... Himself
Yoni Mendel Yoni Mendel ... Himself
Galula Ershkovitz Galula Ershkovitz ... Herself
Doron Lopez Doron Lopez ... Himself


Reveals the shared narratives found in individual and collective ideologies of hate, and how we as a species can overcome them. For six years the filmmaker worked with unprecedented access to some of the most venomous ideologies and violent conflicts of our time including the white supremacist movement, Christian Fundamentalism as an anti-gay platform, Muslim extremism, the Palestinian Intifada, Israeli settlers and soldiers, and US Forces in Iraq. By juxtaposing this verite footage with interviews from leading sociological, psychological, and neurological experts, and interspersing stories of redemption told by former "combatants", the film weaves a tapestry that reveals both the emotional and biological mechanisms which make all of us susceptible to acts and ideologies of hate, and demonstrates how these very same traits make us equally capable of overcoming them. Written by Anonymous

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21 April 2009 (USA) See more »

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User Reviews

Thoughtful, Painful and Balanced
5 January 2012 | by goldwritingSee all my reviews

Watching the daily news each day, you could easily believe we live in a time increasingly overwhelmed by fear and hatred. We could easily slip into depression over the current direction of our governments, our politics and our people and a downward spiral would only lead us into more fear and more hatred.

For as long as there has been good, there has been bad. One cannot exist without the other, but that doesn't mean we cannot explore their definitions and what makes them tick. The more we understand about the two sides of the coin, the more we can help to influence which side is facing up when we look down upon our world.

The Anatomy of Hate: A Dialogue to Hope is an impressive and sometimes unforgiving documentary by Mike Ramsdell. He takes a balanced and unbiased look at where hate springs forth and what spurs it onward. Bravely walking into virtual lion's nests of right-wing fanatics, religious zealots and culture warriors, Ramsdell allows the viewer into the living room of "the enemy" (who might only be labeled as such because they feel the same about everyone else).

What sets this film apart from the array of past hate group documentaries is it makes a gallant attempt to get underneath the heated rhetoric and display some of the reasoning behind it. In some cases, such as the white supremacy groups, the reasoning is as flawed as you might imagine, but The Anatomy of Hate gives us a glimpse on how those cycles of hatred spin out of control in the tightly knit echo chambers of small communities. In the section detailing the infamous Westboro Baptist Church, the same logic applies since the congregation mainly consists of one single family.

The movie truly finds it legs in the section regarding the Israel/Palestine conflict that has been raging for years. In interwoven interviews, Ramsdell talks to a woman who lost her son and husband to Palestinian attacks in a very short period and then to young boys on the other side of the wall who believe the Israelis only goal is to wipe them off the planet. It becomes an unending spiral of "who killed who first" with repetitive and deadly repercussions.

Ramsdell also grounds these stories with interviews with various sociology and psychology professionals, who try to unravel the underpinnings to why these rivalries began and what keeps them fueled. One of the more poignant theories is that each of these groups, and many others, share a common fear of the loss of culture. Once we doomed ourselves by understanding our own mortality, we quickly created social contracts to ensure what we created won't disappear when we die. These groups live under a persistent panic that their culture will be wiped away into the annals of history if not immediately secured away from everyone else through secession or killing off those who challenge it.

This was a valid fear many years ago, but the world has moved on since then, yet these collected pockets hold themselves back like road bumps to evolution. They see the coming interconnected nature of the world population not as a bonus to understanding, but as a muddying of the waters from which they sprang.

The Anatomy of Hate ends on a positive note, focusing on stories of hope and change. Some of these include the very same culture warriors from earlier on, who once calmly spoke of destroying the enemy and the beauty of martyrdom, who now calmly preach dialogue as the true path forward to peace. These beautiful and necessary moments help end the film on a note of hope, a breath of clean air in polluted world of hate.

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