Few potatoes come much hotter than that of abortion in the United States, and where others have feared to tread Tony Kaye’s ‘Lake of Fire’ has a crack at bringing both gravitas and an open perspective to what some have dubbed a religious war.Beautifully shot on uber-expensive black and white stock, you could dismissively put this down as just a high-def talking heads documentary. But where talking heads are always watered down with a billion and one reaction shots, Kaye keeps his hi-def cameras trained unflinchingly on his subjects be they praising the freedom of choice, or eternally condemning all to the titular ‘Lake of Fire’.
You get to meet the campaigners, the judges, ethical critics and scholars, but worst of all are the interviews with the victims of the trade; the persecuted doctors, the attacked clinicians and the women forced to make one of the hardest decisions you can make. Everything writ-large in extreme hi-def close ups, every dimple, pimple and twitch of the brow recorded and projected for the paying audience. It’s excruciating, and wholly fitting to the bone dry heft of the subject matter.
While close-up footage of aborted fetuses is the stock of shock anti-abortionist propaganda, Kaye’s fleeting footage from the backroom of abortion clinics is unswervlingly horrific, yet equally justified. It takes the abstract religious and ethical discussions presented by Chomsky and other fundamental preachers and forces the audience to literally look the flesh and blood matter of abortion straight in its unblinking eye.
The film tackles a dangerous topic in the bravest way possible, and in so doing demonstrates the only way the subject matter could be handled. To do so expertly is an amazing feat. While watching this 2 and half hour behemoth may seem like too much of a challenge, to overlook it would be little short of criminal. Seek it out and take heed from the harshest safe sex information film you will ever see.