HBO // 2000 // 71 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Brett Cullum // June 8th, 2006
What if God told you to kill?
Abortion is a lightning rod in America; religious people oppose it, while Planned Parenthood fights for the right of women to choose. Quite often the heated debate has erupted in spectacular acts of hatred, and Soldiers in the Army of God takes an inside look at the most violent faction of abortion demonstrators in the country. The members of the Army of God are willing to resort to terrorist tactics. Fire bombs, shootings, grenades, and physically threatening protests are the method to their stand against "baby killers." This documentary is a hard look at their motivations, methods, and rationalizations. No matter where you fall on the abortion issue, this is a fascinating peek behind the curtain of a group of people who will resort to any means to stop abortion. The subject material is upsetting no matter how you look at it.
What makes Soldiers in the Army of God so compelling is the film's ability to distance itself and not judge anyone involved in the movement. These days documentary film makers like Michael Moore have been cranking out work that makes them and their own opinion the focus of a film. As entertaining as this showmanship is, it undermines the true nature of documentary which is meant to merely observe and allow the audience to draw its own conclusions. Soldiers in the Army of God was produced as part of HBO's America Undercover series, and it lets the subjects speak for themselves. You get unadulterated opinions from both sides of the debate. It's fair and balanced in a way all good documentaries should be.
It shocks me people would consider murder an acceptable solution to murder. It's very Old Testament "an eye for an eye" style justice. Yet Soldiers in the Army of God shows how these individuals feel they are engaged in a civil war where they seek to right the wrongs and stop the killing. The filmmakers allow both sides to talk directly to the camera about what all of this means to them. The abortionists come off as more level headed naturally, but surprisingly the antiabortionists come off as intelligent well spoken people too. I don't agree with violence as an answer, but they do make a convincing argument.
The DVD presentation from HBO is great. The transfer is as clear as it can be given the filming conditions, and the stereo sound mix focuses the dialogue well. Extras include over fifty minutes of excised footage, new interviews, and an Esquire magazine article on the Army of God. This is definitely a solid package for a powerful documentary. It will make you think and debate. We live in a country where religion causes people to commit terrorist acts too. This is not just a Middle East phenomenon. Baptists have bullets and bombs too, and they aren't always afraid to use them.
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Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Spanish)
Running Time: 71 Minutes
Release Year: 2000
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Outtakes and Additional Footage
* Interview with Antiabortion Activist Johnathan O'Toole
* Interview with Pro-Choice Activist Ann Glazier
* Article from Esquire