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Review of Lake of Fire

March 5, 2013

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.

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