'Lake of Fire' Examines America's Abortion Debates Sixteen years ago, director Tony Kaye began working on Lake of Fire, a documentary about the debate over abortion in the United States. Best known for his work on American History X, Kaye's new documentary tackles all sides of the political and religious controversy.

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NEAL CONAN, host:

British filmmaker Tony Kaye may be best known in this country for the movie, "American History X." Sixteen years ago, he started work on a documentary about the abortion debate in this country, gathering footage and talking to people both for and against.

(Soundbite of documentary "Lake of Fire")

Unidentified Group: Not the church, not the state, women must decide their fate. Not the church, not the state, women must decide their fate.

Unidentified Man#1: One minute after birth is capital punishment, murder one. One minute before is an abortion. It is 100 percent legal.

Unidentified Woman#1: A first trimester abortion is a tiny puddle of flesh.

Unidentified Man#2: Pro-life number one: God loves us.

Unidentified Woman#2: But what if you don't believe in God?

Unidentified Man #3: This shall happen in the presence of his majesty. Woe, woe, woe to this evil generation. How could we say we believe in God and butcher one and a half million babes every year? How could we?

CONAN: The completed documentary, "Lake of Fire" opened recently in theaters around the country. And Tony Kaye joins us now from the studios of the BBC in London. Nice to have you on the program today.

Mr. TONY KAYE (Director, Lake of Fire): Yeah. Thanks.

CONAN: Sixteen years is an awfully long time to work on a film. What took so long?

Mr. KAYE: Well, when you're financing a film yourself, it's - you sometimes run out of money and - but, you know, I used that disadvantage really to work on. And if you're making a film over a long period of time, you know, you can get much more - you can get much closer to what you're trying to achieve. You know, anything, you know, time is the most precious thing. And the more time you put into anything, you know, the better it gets. To be honest, I wouldn't say I've finished the film. I just had to let it go for a while and put it through this sort of reality-testing time, you know?

CONAN: Yeah.

Mr. KAYE: And I've learned a lot. I will be going back to it, not for a few years, but I will be going back to it.

CONAN: I know you were trying to make the film on the abortion debate in this country. What about it interested you so much that you've been, over so many years, put so much work into it?

Mr. KAYE: Well, I think it's a debate where really both sides are a hundred percent right. And once you start to investigate that and to find - to try and be proactive within that and do something and add something to the debate that will benefit you in some way, you tend to go round and round in a circle, which is life really anyway. Life is a circle but…

CONAN: It's interesting watching the film. You talked obviously to people from both sides, and you're right, they both seem a hundred percent certain, with a couple of interesting exceptions. Nevertheless, when you talked - you have a remarkable footage with some women about why they did it. Their answers are much more nuanced. It's not the ideology at all.

Mr. KAYE: What do you mean by that? Sorry…

CONAN: The women's responses as to why they decided to have an abortion were -proved to be much more interesting and nuanced than the stances of the protesters either for or against.

Mr. KAYE: Right. Well, that's what - I mean, that's what it is. I mean, one of the things that I set out to achieve was to try and find out what it actually was, you know? I mean, I went through - not that any man can experience, can go through an abortion, but I went through one with a girlfriend, you know, when I was a younger man. And I wanted to have the baby and she didn't want to have the baby. And, you know, respectfully I went along with her to go to the clinic and, you know, we had the procedure - I mean, we went to see people first, but eventually we ended up there and she had the procedure done.

So I was very - I became, you know, it was - I just wanted to find out what it actually was, you know? I mean, I knew what it was, but I didn't know what -you know what I mean? It's…

CONAN: Yeah.

Mr. KAYE: …know what it was. So it was - when I started making the film, it was very important to me to have in the film, to actually see - to see an abortion and to hear, you know, to experience, to hear the views of the woman as she goes, you know, as she takes that course.

CONAN: We heard Tony Kaye's film, includes the scenes of an abortion. It includes interviews with women who've had it, and includes interviews with protesters on both sides. It's an arresting, disturbing and most interesting film, "Lake of Fire." We thank him for his time today.

I'm Neal Conan. Ira Flatow is here tomorrow with SCIENCE FRIDAY. We'll see you on Monday. It's TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.

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