Saturday, April 23, 2011

Rain Without Thunder

Spoiler Level: High

Set in the year 2042, this film is made in a semi- documentary style, and tells the stories of the women of Walker Point. In the year 2017, Congress passed the 28th Amendment stating that unborn fetuses have all the same rights as a person.  As a result, abortion is now considered homicide.  Walker Point is a prison for women who are guilty of having had an abortion.

What makes the film so compelling is that it shows how closely a woman's right to choose is tied to the complete spectrum of women's rights.  Once the government decreed that an unborn fetus must be protected, women lost the right to do anything while pregnant that might endanger the child, such as smoking, drinking or working. Or to chose what forms of contraception they could use-- anything that isn't barrier-based and prevents a fertilized egg from attaching to the uterine wall is illegal. Or to even go to a different country where abortion is still legal.  It may sound unbelievable that it could go that far that fast, but the steps presented here come across as frighteningly possible.  I tend to forget that in many states (mine included) women haven't even had the right to vote for 100 years yet. When you look at how long it's taken us to get as far as we have, it's not so unbelievable that we might slide backwards, especially in the face of the rallying cry of "protecting the children."

Another interesting element of the film is that it was made in 1992, yet in many ways predicts the conservative movement that's come around with the start of the (W.) Bush administration in 2001. The difference here is that the film puts forth that you catch more flies with honey than vinegar; that people will accept moderate change more than radical change, and that with the proper drive behind it, moderate change can take us backwards just as much as it can take us forward.  In the real world of the early 21st Century, we've become more polarized and radical in our arguments. I never saw any benefits to that before, but this film makes me think that perhaps the two sides being so vehement towards each other might actually be helping to keep each other in check.

Along those lines, while the film definitely has a pro-choice slant, it doesn't try to candy-coat abortion.  There are graphic descriptions of both abortions and the back alley abortion clinics.  It's disturbing, but it should be.  No matter what side of the line you fall on, abortion is not something to be taken lightly, and this film doesn't.

You ever have one of those moments where you recognize an actor but can't place him or her, and it becomes such a distraction that you have to stop the movie and look the actor up on IMDB before you can go on watching?  That happened to me with the character of Prosecuting Attorney Andrea Murdoch.  I knew I recognized her, and she was someone I knew well, but I couldn't place her for the life or me.  So I stopped the film and looked her up. Turns out she was Iona Morris-- the voice of Claudia on Robotech!  So no wonder I was confused-- I can pick her voice out from anywhere, but I've never seen her real face before.  (Well, apparently I've seen her in three episodes of Star Trek, but she was under alien make-up in Voyager and only a little kid in the classic Trek episode "Miri.")

Iona Morris

Amazingly enough, this film has not been released on DVD.  Amazon still has some used VHS copies, or you can watch it like I did-- yes, Netflix Instant Streaming service again.

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