**Note: this is the second in a series where I explore Netflix’s “Watch Instantly” archive looking for great movies. Recently, Netflix added a “Watch Instantly” queue alongside the regular DVD queue. It’s pretty fantastic.
If the name Tony Kaye doesn’t ring a bell, don’t feel bad–his only notable film is the 1998 drama American History X , which he publicly denounced before its release, asking the DGA to credit him as “Humpty Dumpty” (I hope he’s kicking himself now, because AHX is a great movie).
It’s a shame, though, that Kaye’s not better known for his latest film Lake of Fire, an unflinching documentary look at America’s pro-life and pro-choice movements.
Shot in black and white (in itself, a strong metaphor considering the subject matter), Lake of Fire features interviews with liberal academics and conservative zealots in near equal measure, as well as intimate conversations with the doctors, nurses and women involved in the procedures.
At two-and-a-half hours, Lake of Fire is as probing as a documentary can be, exploring the moral uncertainties surrounding abortion, as well as the pro-life movement’s connections to fundamentalist zealotry and institutional misogyny. But the film’s real strength is its steadfast unwillingness to let the audience off the hook–even going so far as to include graphic footage of actual abortions being performed.
I’ve gotta tell you–I went in to this film thinking I had an unwavering opinion about the issue. But facing the uncomfortable reality of the procedure itself is soul-rending, and it seems to me that after watching Lake of Fire, any sane person will be deeply saddened and utterly conflicted.
* As of this writing, Lake of Fire is available for instant viewing on Netflix