Born in Flames

A film by Lizzie Borden

Set ten years after the most peaceful revolution in United States history, a revolution in which a socialist government gains power, this films presents a dystopia in which the issues of many progressive groups – minorities, liberals, gay rights organizations, feminists – are ostensibly dealt with by the government, and yet there are still problems with jobs, with gender issues, with governmental preference and violence. In New York City, in this future time, a group of women decide to organize and mobilize, to take the revolution farther than any man – and many women – ever imagined in their lifetimes.

Review from IMdb

Even almost 20 years after its release, “Born In Flames” retains its sense of urgency and immediacy. This is due both to the energy of the performances, soundtrack and direction and to the fact that most of the women’s demands in the film – including equality in the workplace, safety from harrasment and sexual crimes, and equal representation in government – still have not been met.

One of the film’s greatest achievements is its representation of the divisions and debates within feminism. The film does not try to offer a single solution or plan of action as a definitive best way forward and so avoids tempting over-simplification of a complex set of issues. Rather than negative or unhelpful, I found this approach incredibly refreshing in a medium rife with happy endings and simple, fictional solutions.

“Born In Flames” doesn’t have an answer, but it has many, many questions and many, many voices. These voices and the regular delivery of discourse straight to camera and audience has regularly led to critical disapproval and claims that it is “overly polemical”. I don’t find “Born in Flames” overly polemical. I don’t agree with many of the opinions and strategies given voice and action in the film, but I found the experience of being directly addressed by a female character on issues that are largely invisible in mainstream cinema energising and inspiring. This film won’t change the world, but it made me start writing for my fanzine again and get on the phone to my bandmates to get a practice organised. Enough films, debate, writing, and noise, and we’ll get somewhere.

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Ryan Clover-Owens

I'm on a mission to prove that we can live in a society that reconciles with our history, respects difference, cherishes the land and animals, and can create solutions to the challenges we face.