Kathleen Laughlin ...films that women want to see.

A film by Kathleen Laughlin Woman on Fire Home Movie Clips Reviews Viewer Responses Buy the Video Website Home


The 25 women chronicled in this 90-minute documentary include Rashidah Ismaili, an African American poet; Lynne Dusenberry, an anthropologist; Freude Bartlett, a media producer; and Cobi Sucher, a weaver. The emphasis here is on menopause as a natural process that is made more difficult by our youth-oriented society. While acknowledging that much more attention is now paid to menopause, partly because of the greater availability of therapies, the video points out the need for ceremonies and rituals that celebrate women's aging [see Celebration of Age: The Croning Ceremony, Video Reviews, LJ 6/15/97]. Concerns about aging, loss of control, loss of fertility, anger, and symptoms are discussed. Alternative therapies are mentioned, but there is very little on the role of healthcare professionals, the underlying implication being that menopause is not a deficiency disease. The video centers largely around the interviews but also employs other techniques: the recounting counting of dreams and stories punctuated by dramatic analogies alternates with animated sequences (including a nude representation of a woman), imagery from the natural world, and black-and-white flashbacks portraying a mother-daughter relationship over time. While this style adds variety, it tends to blur the focus. With its feminist, multicultural approach, Woman on Fire is similar to Approaching the 14th Moon (Video Reviews, LJ 10/1/94) but lacks that video's factual component. Nevertheless, it is recommended as a complement to more rigorous programs for public and academic libraries.

--Carolyn Wilcox St Francis Hosp. & Medical Ctr. Lib., Hartford, CT