Let the Fire BurnHD Closed Captioning
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About the Movie
In the astonishingly gripping Let the Fire Burn, director Jason Osder has crafted that rarest of cinematic objects: a found-footage film that unfurls with the tension of a great thriller. On May 13, 1985, a longtime feud between the city of Philadelphia and controversial radical urban group Move came to a deadly climax. By order of local authorities, police dropped military-grade explosives onto a Move-occupied rowhouse. TV cameras captured the conflagration that quickly escalated—and resulted in the tragic deaths of eleven people (including five children) and the destruction of 61 homes. It was only later discovered that authorities decided to “…let the fire burn.” Using only archival news coverage and interviews, first-time filmmaker Osder has brought to life one of the most tumultuous and largely forgotten clashes between government and citizens in modern American history.
Rotten Tomatoes Movie Reviews
- Reviews Counted: 43
- Fresh: 42
- Rotten: 1
- Average Rating: 8.3/10
Top Critics' Reviews
Fresh: [Osder] cuts between news footage of the events as they unfurled and testimony from hearings held afterward to create a stark, nonjudgmental portrait of an incident that probably needn't have happened.
Fresh: Seamlessly fashioned from television news footage, public hearings and other sources, the movie relives an incredible chapter in American history.
Fresh: [A] lean and deeply unsettling archival-footage documentary.
Fresh: Jason Osder's riveting documentary chronicles the escalating confrontations between the Philadelphia police and the radical group Move.
I’d been hoping this documentary would pop up somewhere, having heard for some months all kinds of good things about it. I remember when all this went down and being flabbergasted, shocked, appalled at the news. What? The city—mayor, police, firemen—burnt down an entire community to kill a small group of people…and their children?
I put a lot of blame on Mayor Goode. He had the power and leadership but shrank from it. He should have been on the scene himself ordering those people to put out that fire and bring those people out of that inferno. Or do it himself. He has to live with that on his conscience.
What’s particularly sad is that we as a society haven’t progressed much if any from that time. Certainly the police haven’t. They still murder people and lie about it.
Very interesting and excellently well done. My support constantly shifted from both the MOVE organization and the police as the story was told, for while the police exhibited a completely unlawful use of force with the dropping of the c4 and the decision to the let the fire burn, the MOVE organization also over-stepped thier boundaries through the constant verbal harrassment to the neighboors and fortification of thier house they created a situation that the PD had to defuse. It will end leaving you completely unhappy with the entire conflict wondering who really was at fault and what could have resulted in a peaceful resolution.
Completely F’d up.
I remember when this incident occurred and it was all over the news for a day or two. Then, I never heard about it again. I’m glad I saw this film because I had no idea it went down like this. What a horrible, tragic story. And even though the Move members created the situation that ultimately resulted in the confrontation, the police and city officials acted with total recklessness that not only incinerated 11 people but disrupted and displaced hundreds of innocent people.