An interesting blend of the artistic and the
scientific, "The Human Body" exposes our magnificent
physical beings with a spirit of wonder. Just as the
Planet" presents our Earth with reverence and
beauty -- our gorgeous and fragile home, "The Human
Body" reminds us of the beautiful miracle system that
hosts our breathes, hearts and minds.
A mysterious hole in the darkness appears, winding
down along a crosshatched terrain - it's a close shot
of the human belly button. A fantastic way to open
the picture, I'd have loved the virtual camera to
slowly draw into the hole as if by gravity. Later in
the film, we find ourselves in the stomach watching
tomato chunks splash into the acid, so why not enter
through the belly button?
Instead, the film organizes itself loosely around
a day in life of an American family in England.
Utilizing the style of the old multi-slide-image
show, we can view multiple rooms in the family's home
at once - like a dollhouse. We follow the son to
school, observing his body/motion via heat scan,
stirs of heat escape his body. Then with x-ray vision
we watch his bones (and those of the dog running
along side) orchestrating movement of the flesh.
Soon enough the focus returns to mom who can't
keep a rich smile back while talking about her
pregnancy, "I'm never quite alone anymore." Of
course, we join her in the hospital for low-res, yet
simply remarkable images of the fetus in her womb. A
timeline caption would have been nice here. Later,
we're bedside along with the husband as she gives
birth. If you're a bit weak of stomach, don't worry,
the actual presentation of the newborn from the
vagina isn't shown.
Probably the most wonderful sequence of the
production sinks underwater. Babies bobble in slow
motion, eyes wide open, they paddle toward mentoring
mothers (or teachers) as they hold their breaths for
the first time. Sweet and full of heart, I could have watched this scene for at least
twice its duration. Along the same lines, full grown
adults manipulate their bodies in flight during
platform diving shots in slow-mo - also filmed with
great care and appreciation for the human form in
motion. (Loved the sidewise shot of divers breaking
Yet another remarkable sequence captures the woman
(with child) walking across a black background, her
belly expanding with the growing fetus. Via the
miracle of motion-controlled photography (and life)
in just 20 steps or so, we watch her body go through
months of paternity.
Moving into the teenager's world, adolescents talk
openly about hormonal changes, puberty, guys, girls.
One of the most dreaded irritants of that rite of
passage pops nauseatingly across the huge large
format screen - the zit! Prepare to wince.
But much of the picture takes place (on location)
inside the body. Some organs basking in screen-time,
still others are left out of the script all together.
Those emphasized: ears, throat, stomach, intestines,
lungs, heart, veins, sperm, eggs. The most stunning
visuals are presented via magical microscopic
photography. (The filmmakers were forced to create
new technology, or improve existing ones for some of
these shots.) However, simulations successfully
communicate other organ processes. Unfortunately,
these images aren't clearly identified as actual or
simulations -- I was left assuming most aren't
Though plenty of room for improvement exists, "The
human body" hosts wonderfully appreciative glimpses
of ourselves. I look forward to other "volumes" (or
versions) of this picture which further embrace the
aesthetics of our bodies through actual images both
inside and outside of these marvelous gifts of