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Copywrite 2001-2004, California Science Center
Media Contact:   Isela Castillo
September 22, 2001
An Awe-Inspiring Voyage Through a Day in the Life of "The Human Body"
BBC/Discovery Pictures' Large-Format Film Tells the Story of Our Bodies: Seven Stories Tall

The speeding impulse of a brain cell racing at 250 miles-per-hour… the quivering dance of hairs in our ear, so small that 10,000 bunched together are thinner than one strand of hair from our head… the 100-mile trek of a red blood cell, only thousandths of an inch in size, through our vast, tangled network of veins, arteries and capillaries… or the miraculous genetic fusion of parental DNA that signals the beginning of a unique new life. All these extraordinary occurrences are routine events for our bodies, yet almost all are hidden from our view.

The Human Body is a presentation of The Learning Channel (TLC) and BBC Worldwide of a Discovery Pictures/BBC co-production in association with The Science Museum, London and the Maryland Science Center with major funding provided by the National Science Museum. Narrated by Dr. Robert Winston, Europe's leading infertility specialist and frequent media commentator, this ground-breaking film reveals the incredible everyday story of life in a way never before seen. In astonishing detail, the giant screen film presents a slice of our life — a look at the daily biological processes that go on without our control and often without our notice.

The 40-minute giant screen film builds on the international success of the Peabody Award-winning Intimate Universe: The Human Body co-produced by TLC and the BBC. That eight-hour television series told the inspiring story of human biology from conception to death.

"The Human Body film goes beyond the television series, taking the audience on a fantastic voyage with incredible detail and sound. The film explores the complexities of the human body by investigating, in great detail, the myriad functions the body performs routinely every day," said Jana Bennett, executive-in-charge and executive producer for Discovery Pictures. "We investigated and portrayed the human body in ways never seen before—from the progression and culmination of a pregnancy to thermal imagery and X-ray techniques. This film brings images to the audience on a scale never before captured in the history of cinema."

A baby exhibiting the mysterious dive reflex

Premiering at the Science Museum, London, and the Maryland Science Center in Baltimore in October 2001 and worldwide thereafter in museums and theaters, the giant screen film examines a day in the life of the body as it diligently goes about its complex set of everyday chores. But more than a science lesson in biology, The Human Body takes us on an exhilarating personal journey of discovery about what it means to be human. Using innovative filmmaking techniques, combined with the latest medical and scientific imaging, it shows us the ordinary miracles that keep our bodies running at full steam from morning 'til night and the extraordinary marvels of life.

"Large format films have traditionally climbed mountains, dived to the bottom of the ocean, but have never turned and looked to our own bodies as a place for exploration," explains BBC writer-producer Richard Dale. "Technology makes it possible to think about our lives differently and to suddenly realize how marvelous the human body is."

"This project is original and groundbreaking and is just the right project for Discovery Pictures to bring to a wide audience," says Bennett. "We've assembled a highly-talented production team—on both sides of the Atlantic—in a unique collaboration to achieve the desired result—an in-depth look at the human body. We love the idea of audiences being able to take a look at themselves."

Inside a beating heart

Three years in the making, The Human Body provides a dramatic picture of life, drawing on the most sophisticated graphics available specially adapted to take advantage of the scope, power and detail made possible by the large-screen format. The result is a visually mesmerizing, visceral storytelling experience that plunges us into the action. We follow a tomato on its journey to the biological blender of our stomach, paddle underwater with infants whose mysterious diving reflex allows them to comfortably "swim," and accompany a red blood cell into the pumping chamber of the body's engine room, the heart.

"This film is one of the most technically complex giant screen films ever made," says BBC director-producer Peter Georgi. "The incredible detail that you see on the large-format screen changes even an ordinary image so almost all the techniques used in the television series had to be completely rethought. To get the subject matter on the large screen, we've employed every tool available. We've 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."

The Human Body's story begins with a wake-up call at a family's home. The film shows that just opening our eyes each morning scorches off the top layer of the cells on our retina and we begin with refreshed sensors with which to view the world. Follow what happens in the course of a single day, the extraordinary accomplishments in the lives and bodies of eight-year-old Zannah, teenager Luke, and Uncle Buster and Aunt Heather, an American couple expecting their first child. Whatever pace we start the day, our bodies are already running at full speed.

Thermal image of Luke on his bike

While watching Luke bike to school, thermal imaging opens up a world not of light but of heat. Sophisticated computer graphics image his body and environment in X-ray form and we see how blood flows through his arteries and veins. Scanning electron microscopy sneaks a peak into what goes on in the inner ear as Zannah blasts her favorite pop tune.

At the heart of the film is the experience of bringing a new life into the world. The course of Heather's pregnancy, condensed with the use of motion-control photography into our biological day, illustrates how naturally the body adapts to the physical changes taking place. But of greater significance are Heather's heartfelt observations about those physical transformations and her impending motherhood. The culmination of the film arrives with the birth of Heather and Buster's baby, captured in all its frenzy, excitement and joy.

"We always wanted to show the experience of the human body rather than just the mechanics of the human body, otherwise you reduce people to props," Dale concludes. "The large format gives you the sense of being right in the hospital. Birth is a very intense, confusing, emotionally charged experience and we've been able to communicate that feeling without being invasive. It's the junction between science and the human story."

"The Science Museum is very excited to be involved in the production of this ground-breaking film," says Alison Roden, head of IMAX development, The Science Museum, London. "When we first approached the BBC about making a large format film about the human body back in 1997, we hoped to produce a film which would act as a 'signature' feature for the IMAX cinema in our new Wellcome Wing. The film offers a compelling insight into human biology, and the extraordinary feats achieved by our bodies each day, and delivers it in a way which we believe will both entertain and educate our audiences, while fully supporting our mission to further public understanding of contemporary science and technology."
"As an industry leader in large format film distribution and digital imaging nWave Pictures was a natural fit for The Human Body project. That coupled with the film's brilliant and enlightening content and the opportunity to work with the BBC and Discovery Pictures, makes this one of our most exciting releases ever," said Mark Katz, president of nWave Pictures.

California Science Center IMAX Theater is located at 700 State Drive, Exposition Park, Los Angeles. Enter visitor parking lot at 39th & Figueroa Street; parking is $6. Both the Science Center and IMAX Theater are wheelchair accessible.

Ticket prices for IMAX films range from $4.25 to $7.00. Call 213.744-7400 for information. For advance ticket purchase and group rates, phone 213.744-2019.

Proceeds from the IMAX Theater support Science Center exhibits and programming. Guests should call 213-744-7400 to confirm film schedule prior to their visit.

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