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The Human Body

About the Film

The Human Body is best suited to school students ages five and above. It contains scenes of childbirth and a discussion of the topic of puberty. Teachers are encouraged to read more about the film below, watch the trailers or preview the film beforehand if they have any concerns about the suitability of the film for their students. The film is rated G and is very popular with schools.

The Human BodyThree years in the making, The Human Body reveals the incredible story of life. In astonishing detail, this large-format film presents a look at the biological processes that go on without our control and often without our notice. Throughout the film we follow a family from dawn to dusk as they go about their daily routines. But this is no ordinary story. This is the tale of what takes place beneath the skin—a tale that allows us to see the extraordinary accomplishments of our everyday lives.

The everyday biological processes that keep us ticking are all in a day's work for the human body. Finding a way to film and illustrate those activities for a screen seven stories tall required a cinematic inventiveness that was anything but routine. Co-produced by Discovery Pictures and the BBC, The Human Body incorporates groundbreaking computer graphics with stunning real-life images to create a day in the life of a human body. "This film is one of the most technically complex large-format films ever made," states director-producer Peter Georgi. "To get the subject matter on the large screen, we've pushed the boundaries, taken advantage of the most advanced scanning electron microscopes, the latest thermal imaging and high definition digital video cameras, the cutting edge in medical computer graphics... whatever we thought could provide the best possible images."

And provide images it does! The Human Body will provide a glimpse of:

  • the 100 billion new red blood cells the body generates each morning;
  • the 40 yards of new hair that sprouts every day;
  • a human egg nestling into the folds of a fallopian tube;
  • a thermal image of a child riding a bicycle;
  • a trip on a tomato from mouth to stomach;
  • babies able to hold their breath under water, and
  • the inside of an ear as cells actually dance to music.

"The film explores the complexities of the human body by investigating, in great detail, the functions the body performs routinely every day," notes executive producer Jana Bennett. "We investigated and portrayed the human body in ways never seen before. This film brings images to the audience on a scale never before captured in the history of cinema."

To make The Human Body come alive took not only the marriage of the latest developments in medical imaging with cutting-edge cinematic techniques and cameras, but also a good measure of ingenuity as well. As a result, The Human Body is an incredible technological achievement for Discovery Pictures and the BBC. The film's opening sequence—a close tracking shot over the body—is just one instance where "ingenuity" played a major role. "You had to light the body with an enormous number of big film lamps to accomplish that [tracking shot over the body]," explains writer-producer Richard Dale. "The lights gave off tremendous heat and ultraviolet light, which could have been very damaging to the skin. The commercially available UV filters were not adequate to stop that much light, so our photographers developed little aquariums that could fit in front of the lamps. They had cold water, which is quite a good absorber of UV, constantly running through them."

Ultimately, The Human Body shows us more than a biological wonder at its best; the film also shares the emotions of life. From the joy of learning and the anxiety of puberty, to the potential wonder of pregnancy and birth, The Human Body tells us the amazing story of our own lives—through our own bodies. "Large format has traditionally climbed mountains and gone to the bottom of the ocean, but we have turned the camera on ourselves and looked to our own bodies as a place for exploration," observes Dale. "Technology makes it possible to think about our lives differently and to suddenly realize how marvelous the human body is."

The Human Body is a presentation of The Learning Channel and BBC Worldwide of a Discovery Pictures / BBC co-production in association with the Maryland Science Center and the Science Museum, London with major funding provided by the National Science Foundation and distributed by nWave Pictures Distribution.