Leonard Cohen: Bird on a Wire
Palmer's film is that rare concert doc that isn't for established fans only.
Readers often complain about documentaries that don't tell "both sides." Those who care deeply about the issue of abortion in America, no matter which side they are on, may complain that "Lake of Fire" tells the other side. This is a brave, unflinching, sometimes virtually unwatchable documentary that makes such an effective case for both pro-choice and pro-life that it is impossible to determine which side the filmmaker, Tony Kaye, stands on. All you can conclude at the end is that both sides have effective advocates, but the pro-lifers also have some alarming people on their team.
One is an earnest young man named Paul Hill, neat haircut, aviator glasses, who says we should execute all abortionists. He doesn't stop there. We should also execute all blasphemers. What is a blasphemer? he's asked. Well, he says, people who say "God damn it." Anyone who says "God damn it" should be executed? "Yes," he says firmly. Later, he murders a Florida doctor who performed abortions. It's one of two murders in the film which result in the death penalty, which pro-life advocates generally support.
Other pro-lifers buy property next to abortion clinics and build platforms so they can climb onto them and shout over fences at young women entering the clinics. They consider abortion to be murder, plain and simple, and they are also against birth control and sex education, which have proven to reduce unplanned pregnancies and therefore abortions.
On behalf of their argument, Hill shows graphic footage of abortions and their consequences. The scene that shook me most deeply has a doctor sorting through a pan of blood, fluid and body parts to be sure he has removed an entire fetus. Tiny hands and feet can clearly be seen. Throughout the film, we see more than enough to convince us that what is being aborted is often recognizably human.