Not only is HBO not afraid of controversial programming, they actually embrace it. It is widely believed that the two topics that cause the most tension among people is politics and religion. Maybe that’s why abortion is such a hot-button issue. No other topic simultaneously evokes such strong political and theological views. Solders in the Army of God is an HBO original documentary that takes a close look look at the “Army of God” organization, the most violent anti-abortion group in the United States.
Now, my interest is not to share my personal beliefs on the subject of abortion, or to try to persuade others to share my viewpoints. My sole aim here is to comment on the quality of the film, which I will gladly do. This is a short but extremely powerful film that provides an incredibly insightful look into this frightening organization. By definition, the Army of God is a terrorist organization, and though this film was originally shot in 2000, it provides invaluable insight into the mind of a terrorist and the beliefs of a terrorist organization in the 21st century climate.
As the best documentaries always do, this film doesn’t present a biased view of this organization or of its proponents. Instead, the facts are presented in their truest form, and the viewer is left to decide for themselves which side of the argument they come down on. When facts are presented simply as they are, it becomes easy for the viewer to discern what is right from what is wrong. I feel that people on both sides of the abortion argument will find benefit in this film, and it is one of those great documentaries that has helped to revive the popularity of documentary film.
This was a film that was originally intended solely for broadcast on HBO, so the original stereo soundtrack is perfectly acceptable here on the DVD. The dialog is very clear, which is always the most important thing in a documentary. The soundtrack is equally even and balanced. This is not a film that calls for a big, flashy audio track, and to provide it would have been pretentious. The point of this documentary is not to entertain the viewer with quality audio and video, but solely to share information in as clear of a manner as possible. The stereo track on this disc does just that.
The quality of the video in this film is varied, due to the many different film sources used. Everything from film cameras to personal camcorders to television broadcasts is used in the film. Even so, I was basically pleased with this transfer. There were no major issues with grain or blemishes on the frames, and the color is quite sharp and consistent. For a documentary feature, the transfer on this disc is more than adequate., and does a great job of supporting the subject matter that is discussed.
There are only a few extras on this disc, but they are powerful. Instead of the usual 5 or 10-minutes of deleted scenes, this film has a full 50-minutes of deleted scenes… almost as much content as the film itself. In a film such as this one, even deleted scenes have value. Also included is an updated interview with Jonathan O’Toole, one of the central figures in the film. It is interesting to hear how his beliefs have changed, not only with maturity but in a post 9-11 society. Finally, there is a reprint of an article that first appeared in Esquire magazine entitled “The Future of the Armed Abortion Movement”, written by Daniel Voll, the film’s producer.
This is a very powerful film that will no doubt inspire discussion among everyone who sees it. As far as I am concerned, this is a film that falls into that select group of documentaries that should be viewed by all American citizens. At 71-minutes in length, it is certainly not a major investment to sit down with this film. Tough issues such as this one are not to be ignored, but should be carefully considered by all citizens. Viewing this film is a great way to do just that.