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Trial by Fire | 2018 | R | – 6.6.10

content-ratingsWhy is “Trial by Fire” rated R? The MPAA rating has been assigned for “language throughout, some violence, disturbing images, sexual material and brief nudity.” The Kids-In-Mind.com evaluation includes a few implied sex scenes including nudity; several scenes of a house fire that killed three young children, including a photo of a charred corpse in court, a few fight scenes that end in bloody wounds, an execution by lethal injection, a car accident that ends with the driver suffering a broken neck, and discussions of spousal abuse; and over 50 F-words. Read our parents’ guide below for details on sexual content, violence & strong language.”


Based on true events, described in a 2009 article in The New Yorker by David Grann: In 1992 Cameron Todd Willingham (Jack O’Connell) was convicted and sentenced to death in Texas for the death of his three young children in a house fire. He was executed in 2004, not having been afforded the opportunity to present evidence that would have probably exonerated him. Also with Laura Dern, Emily Meade, Jade Pettyjohn, Jeff Perry and Chris Coy. Directed by Edward Zwick. [Running Time: 2:07]

Trial by Fire SEX/NUDITY 6

 – A topless woman seated at the edge of a bed puts on a bra (we see bare breasts and abdomen) as her fully nude husband (we see his bare chest, abdomen, legs, partial buttocks and partial pubic hair) flirts with her and holds her around the shoulders kissing her and they fall back onto the bed where sex is implied. A husband yells at his wife, pushes her over a sofa and presses against her buttocks as he holds her by the neck and she lifts her skirt to reveal her bare legs and underwear while inviting her husband to have sex (sex is implied).
 A man in prison asks a woman visiting him to stand up and twirl around for him on the other side of protective glass (she refuses). A man says that another man’s wife was flirting with him in a bar and that, “that’s the way she is.” A wife accuses her husband of cheating on her and they argue. Several women tease another woman about visiting an inmate and that he probably wanted to have sex with her.
 A shirtless man is shown a few times as he stumbles out of a burning house (we see his bare chest, abdomen and back). A man is shown in a prison shower room (we see his bare back, chest and abdomen). A woman wears low-cut tops and dresses that reveal cleavage. A woman and a teen girl wear low-cut tops that reveal cleavage.


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Trial by Fire VIOLENCE/GORE 6

 - We hear the voice of a young girl calling for her father as he wakes up and finds the house in flames; he coughs and stumbles to the room where his three children are sleeping and tries to save them (we do not see the children) as burning debris falls on his back and he struggles to get out of the house (this scene is repeated several times). A man imagines flames roaring into his prison cell and smoke billowing as he hears the voice of his young daughter calling for help; the man slams his head into the cell wall and we see a thick blood spot. A man on a table in an execution room lies still as IVs pump chemicals into his system, he breathes slowly, twitches and thrashes and then goes still.
 A photo of a young child with charred skin and clothing is shown in a court room. A charred teddy bear and pacifier are seen in a coroner's exam room as a technician cuts away clothes from a child's body (we see a child's charred foot and pant leg). We hear deep coughing coming from inside a house as flames erupt and smoke billows; a man stumbles out the front door, yells for a neighbor to call the fire department for help, says his babies are inside, pushes his car out of the driveway and collapses to his knees crying as help arrives. A man breaks a window with a crow bar and flames burst out toward him.
 A woman driving in a car drives through an intersection and is T-boned by a truck; the car is flipped and we see her with a bloody gash on her forehead and we hear that her neck is broken and that she probably won't walk again. Several inmates in a shower room fight with punches and kicks and we see bloody faces and one man spits blood on the floor. A prison guard punches an inmate in the face and abdomen a few times until he passes out (we see dried blood and bruises later). A man punches another man (below the frame) a few times in a bar (we do not see injuries) after his wife and the other man were apparently flirting.
 A wife yells for her husband to pull the car over, she pulls on the steering wheel and the car swerves toward an oncoming vehicle, and the car moves back to the other lane as two police cars pull them over and arrest the driver for murder; the man is handcuffed and a police officer holds his gun on the woman, who's still in the car. A husband yells at his wife, pushes her over a sofa and presses against her buttocks as he holds her by the neck (please see the Sex/Nudity category for more details). A woman yells at a man and he tells her to leave and that he has a gun. A man and a woman yell at each other over a telephone in a prison visitation area.
 A prison guard holds an inmate by the throat and threatens him. An inmate is shown strapped to a gurney as he is executed (we see his lower legs as he twitches and seizes). A proposed scenario is shown where a man pours gasoline on the floor in a room and hallway of a house and he flicks a lit cigarette that starts a fire. Several inmates are led down a hallway to a death chamber in several different scenes as other inmates call out to them to "stand tall" and "be strong" and we see a couple of them struggling against the guards and yelling.
 A man is held in solitary confinement and he seems to begin to become unstable. A man is taken to prison and other inmates heckle him and call him "baby killer." A prisoner calls out to another prisoner, "I've got something special for you." A prison guard describes what will happen when a prisoner is put to death as they walk past a hallway that leads to the death chamber.
 A husband holds his wife around the shoulders and she complains that he stinks as she pulls away and they argue. A husband accuses his wife of demonizing him. A man yells, "I'll die before I say I killed my own kids." We hear voices on a radio call in show and people say that a man should, "Burn in hell, " and "It's too bad we can't kill him three times over." A man describes a scenario where a child had died and that a man set a fire to cover up whatever had happened to her. A man makes a hand motion gesturing, "I'll kill you." A man and a woman yell at a judge and a jury about not getting a fair trial. A man says that another man was "sold down the river." A man writes, "I am slowly being erased." A man says, "The system is broken." We hear that a man has a history of violent behavior including spousal abuse. A woman testifies that another woman would come to work with bruises and that her husband had beaten her to try to make her miscarry when she was pregnant. We hear that a woman's mother was murdered by her father. A woman says that she has a loaded .38 next to her bed. We hear that Texas has the highest execution rate of any state. A man talks about his last meal before being executed and says that he'll "throw up all over the [mild obscenity deleted] place." A man talks about changing the diapers on his children as being similar to trying to hold "greased piggies."
 A man is pushed into a jail cell with another man and he climbs on the bars yelling that he didn't do it; the other man in the cell teases him about feeding him a banana and the first man throws the other man's things around the room and spits on the floor. A man imagines his young daughter (now dead) sitting next to him in his prison cell and he talks to her. An inmate lies flat on the floor in his cell when guards come to take him to be executed; they lift him up, strap him onto a table and he is held up to be seen by witnesses as a man inserts an IV into his arm (we see the needle press into his flesh).
 Three small caskets are shown in a cemetery at a funeral with mourners gathered. We hear that a man died from an illness and his children and ex-wife cry. The ashes of a man are sprinkled over the graves of three young children. We see the charred remains of rooms in a house with burned beds and walls. Officials examine a burned out house and determine that accelerant was sprayed on a floor and trailed out of a house before it was set ablaze by a man. A man spills gasoline on the floor of a lab-like area and sets it on fire as a demonstration (it burns out rather quickly); the man also heats a pane of glass and sprays it with water to show how the glass would crack.
 We see posters depicting demonic creatures with horns and sharp teeth hanging on a wall and presented as evidence in a courtroom. A man is shown with tattoos of skulls with slithering tongues wrapping around on his arm.


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Trial by Fire LANGUAGE 10

 - About 52 F-words and its derivatives, 6 sexual references, 34 scatological terms, 13 anatomical terms, 23 mild obscenities, name-calling (sick puppy, darlin', devil worshipper, stupid, loser, doctor death, Saint Jane, gross, murderer, charming, boy, "baby killer," cold, whore, slut, sociopath, monster, horror-show, crazy, fancy pants, wicked child, lame, wicked man, sugar, sweet thing, dumb), exclamations (burn in hell, gosh, I swear, bull pucky), 4 religious profanities (GD), 9 religious exclamations (e.g. Oh My God, My God, Please God, I Swear To God, Jesus [F-word deleted] Christ, Jesus, Oh Lord). | profanity glossary |


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Trial by Fire SUBSTANCE USE

 - A woman smokes marijuana (presumably) from a pipe, and a prison guard describes inserting an IV into a prisoner's arm when he is being executed and he says "sometimes we miss." A man drinks a beer, a man says that he had a beer and stayed at a friend's house because he already had one DUI, a man drinks from a bottle of beer in a workshop, and several people are shown drinking in a bar. A woman smokes a cigarette in a bar, and a man smokes a cigarette in a prison cell.


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Trial by Fire DISCUSSION TOPICS

 - The death penalty, the justice system, justice for the poor, DUI, spousal abuse, DNA, infidelity, false hope, fear, torture, expert witnesses, corruption, death row romances, jealousy, negligence, Texas, The Innocence Project, Rick Perry, Ann Richards, karma, revenge.

Trial by Fire MESSAGE

 - Justice is not always served. The death penalty leaves no room for potential errors or miscarriages of justice and those without capital are more likely to get capital punishment.

CAVEATS

Be aware that while we do our best to avoid spoilers it is impossible to disguise all details and some may reveal crucial plot elements.

We've gone through several editorial changes since we started covering films in 1992 and older reviews are not as complete & accurate as recent ones; we plan to revisit and correct older reviews as resources and time permits.

Our ratings and reviews are based on the theatrically-released versions of films; on video there are often Unrated, Special, Director's Cut or Extended versions, (usually accurately labelled but sometimes mislabeled) released that contain additional content, which we did not review.



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