Winner of 10 international Awards, DEATH BY DESIGN is a guided tour into the invisible world of cells, told through a collage of metaphors and interviews with cellular biologists. State-of-the-art microcinematography is playfully intercut with parallel images from life at the human scale: a hundred lighted violins, imploding skyscrapers, Busby Berkeley musicals, Harold Lloyd antics and more. Using the same imaginative interplay of classic films, animation and research,THE LIFE AND TIMES OF LIFE AND TIMES tells the complex story of how we age and also shows how scientists hope to alter the genes that determine how long we live.
Death by Design
, a witty, fast-paced documentary by Peter Friedman (working with French researcher Jean-Francois Brunet), concerns an unlikely but fascinating subject: programmed cell death. Taking us deep into the mysteries of cellular biology, Friedman reveals the arcane reasons why some cells suddenly and automatically kill themselves, apparently triggered by signals from surrounding cells. Friedman employs some impressive, microscopic cinematography, but he knows most people are not inclined to look at the building blocks of life even for an hour. So he makes clever, allegorical use of other bits of film--clips of cars driving on the freeway, animation, Busby Berkley musical numbers, Harold Lloyd--to underscore the major points. Wonderfully entertaining and enlightening, Death by Design
makes the invisible a thing of kinetic beauty.
The Life and Times of Life and Times is an edgy yet witty treatise on an enduring scientific and philosophical mystery: Why do we age? For that matter, why does anything in the material world change over time, and what does time mean in a biological sense? Several garrulous scientists seem happy to expound on one or another aspect of these questions in this stimulating documentary by Jean-François Brunet and Peter Friedman ("Death By Design: Where Parallel Worlds Meet"). Among other things, the film's talking heads remind us we know little about aging, and that evolution could have eradicated aging in human beings by now except for the fact that nature regards older, post-fertility people as, well, unworthy of preserving. But don't despair: Other species face the same dilemma, except scientists have learned to lengthen the life span of, say, fruit flies by delaying their reproductive period. (Hmm
) If there is such a thing as a fountain of youth, it all comes down to genetics, The Life and Times tells us in its casually enigmatic way. --Tom Keogh