Lake of Fire, the much-anticipated abortion documentary from British director Tony Kaye (his first film since 1998's searing American History X), has been touted as the "definitive" film about abortion. It has also been heralded as being aggressively even-handed—a documentary fair to both sides of the debate. Both of these claims, as it turns out, are a bit exaggerated. Lake of Fire is a remarkable film in some respects, but it is not groundbreaking or particularly definitive. And it is certainly not a fair take on the debate.
Coming in to the film, one expects (or at least hopes) that it will be a thoughtful consideration of the issues at stake in the ongoing abortion debate. Heaven knows we are desperate for a congenial sit-down in which all perspectives, arguments, and scientific evidence are presented and considered evenly—apart from personal attacks, cynicism and vitriol. But in this respect the film is a huge letdown—a wasted opportunity to truly consider the issue/act of abortion and its moral meaning.
Instead, we get a lopsided parade of talking heads in which well-mannered, intellectual liberals (Noam Chomsky, Alan Dershowitz, Peter Singer) represent the pro-choice viewpoint and firebrand country bumpkin fundamentalists represent the pro-life side. Defenders of the film might point out that the brunt of screen time goes to Christians and pro-lifers, which is true. But the majority of time devoted to the "pro-life" contingent centers upon the fringe extremists who picket and sometimes bomb abortion clinics, and occasionally assassinate abortion doctors. This is the face of the pro-life movement, as represented in Lake of Fire.
The messages proclaimed by the Christians in this film are predominantly ...1