Review of Lake of Fire
Tony Kaye, what an artist. I’m not going to comment on the subject matter of this film other than to say that I’m not sure I agree with the idea that all the pro-life rhetoric was delivered by the 3-toothed faction & all the pro-choice stuff by the likes of Noam Chomsky, who spoke eloquently about the complexity of the issue & the difficulty we are having as a culture coming to terms with this complexity, but I don’t think that’s the same thing as Chomsky delivering a pro-choice message. Still, I didn’t care all that much because I was so utterly mesmerized by Tony Kaye’s photographic eye for the entire 2-1/2 hours. I still remember the scenes in American History X that took my breath away with their beauty; the fragile, intimate, shallow-depth-of-field, animated black & white portraits with the camera trained closely on Edward Norton & the planes of his face moving in and out of focus. Images so striking I can still see them in the tiniest detail even though it has been years since I saw that film. LoF is filled with one after another of the most incredibly lit, framed & composed f5.6 or so portraits you are ever going to see in a film.Because of the shallow depth of field, there were times when the subject moved out of focus & I was acutely aware of re-focusing; this was okay with me, because this is a film where the camera is a magical instrument I was not intended to lose awareness of. The subjects are all far more beautiful in black & white than they ever could be in color, & if there ever was evidence for a B/W photo being something of an x-ray (& I mean this not entirely figuratively) that tells more about the interior of a person than a color photo ever could, this is it.It’s worth noting that in most B/W photos there’s not really all that much pure black or pure white–it’s almost all shades of gray.So it is with the issue of abortion, & Kaye’s choice to shoot B/W is the perfect metaphor for this very complex issue.