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BMZ Review: The Human Body
By Herb Lash

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The Human Body
Written by: Herb Lash
Source: Big Movie Zone
Date: October 2001

     

Category: Reviews

The ultra-familiar is suddenly made alien, shock and wonder ensue - you are watching THE HUMAN BODY. Those of us who have spent time in the company of human bodies (our own or others) are well aware of the astounding assortment of sounds and sights the body is capable of producing. The human body is funny, grotesque, awe inspiring, erotic and beautiful - it is how we sense the world and so it is the world as we know it. The arsenal of advanced imaging technologies utilized in THE HUMAN BODY throws open a window on a new human world. There are things happening in your body right now that you will never see unless you see this film. The filmmakers dole out adequate bits of science and create a clever enough narrative structure, but some of the images here would lose little of their power if they were presented as a silent film.

The film is an outgrowth of an eight-hour BBC television documentary that follows the human life cycle from creation to death. This Big Movie version of THE HUMAN BODY doesn't have quite so much time to roam and linger over all aspects of our anatomy. Instead, we get a quick introduction to four real people with real personalities and real everyday lives. Only after this quick hello do we delve into their innards. There is perhaps no more natural location for the beginning of a human drama than in the fallopian tube; watching as the egg is pinched toward its fateful rendezvous with a hearty few sperm cells. Perky Heather provides the film with its central landscape - the pregnant female body. But husband Buster, teen aged nephew Luke and his little sister Zannah have plenty of interesting things going on inside and outside their bodies as well. Luke gets hot and sweats as he rides his bike. Zannah rocks out to loud music through her headphones. Buster works up a nervous sweat after a near miss on the drive into work. Each of these events is then recast as a biological event and viewed through a dazzling array of imaging techniques. There is a laundry list of extraordinary images to be experienced: a tomato dropping into a stomach swamp, the percolation of a single bead of sweat through the skin, heat plumes rising off over-heated skin, a beating heart, an inside the womb view of fingers taking shape, the microscopic hairs of the inner ear dancing and translating vibration to recognizable sound. . .The film is undoubtedly educational, but foremost it seems a showcasing of the miracle that is each of our bodies. Leap frogging inside and out of Heather to Buster to Luke to Zannah and back to Heather again keeps things moving at a lively pace. Even as we get a look at tumbling red blood cells, streaking brain cells and sprouting hairs - the filmmakers are careful not to lose track of the amiable personalities in charge of these bodies.

It might be argued that THE HUMAN BODY doesn't really gain anything in becoming a Large Format film, the pictures would certainly amaze in almost any format. But there is an abstraction that occurs as we find ourselves in the middle of the human stomach, as we spiral down into a belly button and as we hover above an eyeball. Everything familiar becomes mysterious. Director Peter Georgi does not exaggerate in his claim that the human body is one of the last true frontiers.

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