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The Human Face

4.3 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews

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(Aug 28, 2001)
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Editorial Reviews

A four-part BBC series examining the science behind facial beauty expression and fame in lighthearted fashion.Running Time: 200 min.Format: DVD MOVIE Genre: DOCUMENTARIES/MISC. UPC: 794051157225

Special Features

  • Photo gallery
  • Deleted scenes
  • Fact file

Product Details

  • Actors: John Cleese, David Attenborough, Elizabeth Hurley, Pierce Brosnan, William Goldman
  • Directors: David Stewart, James Erskine
  • Writers: John Cleese
  • Producers: David Stewart, James Erskine, Nancy Lavin, Sally George, Sharon Gillooly
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: BBC Warner
  • DVD Release Date: August 28, 2001
  • Run Time: 200 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005LC1B
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #121,287 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Human Face" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
The Human Face is a fascinating but scattershot approach to the topic. John Cleese's approach is sure to delight his fans and annoy his detractors. He manages in his own unique way (while ripping Elizabeth Hurley's face off and shooting fellow Monty Python alum Michael Palin not once, but twice! Pythons always were excessive!) to convey many interesting and pertinent facts concerning the human face and our reactions to it.
Several sections were absolutely fascinating. The discussion on the evolution of the face claims that humankind's move toward an upright posture created an emphasis toward the eyes and visual stimuli and away from the nose and the sense of smell. Our profound reactions to facial expressivity are demonstrated in MRI brain scans that reveal activity deep in the amygdala as a reaction to faces showing fear although no conscious reaction was felt. Several curiosities reminiscent of "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat" are explored, including a man who, following an automobile accident, wholeheartedly believed that his parents had been replaced by other people who looked exactly like them--he was able to recognize their physical appearance but had lost the emotional attachment that allowed him to recognize their relationship. Most heartening was a young woman with an exceptionally large jaw who had not only come to accept her looks but further to find her unique appearance a source of pride.
The series closes with an examination of fame, and here it seems to go astray--so much so that Cleese resorts to acts of gratuitous violence against Palin. The focus shifted rather unsettlingly away from the face to the idea of fame.
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Format: DVD
I enjoyed this series and learned some new and amazing aspects of human physiology. I would especially recommend this` for young teenagers who might be caught up in the "am I beautiful / handsome" worries of adolescence. Interviews with individuals who have rare facial disorders, gave me a special appreciation of the "inner beauty" hidden in all of us.
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Format: DVD
John Cleese takes a different style in teaching us about the power of the human face. The documentary does contain tons of interesting facts about the human face and its role through history. What makes it stand out as a documentary is the twisted humor John Cleese, Michael Palin, and Liz Hurley (to name a few) inject into it. Subjects of Beauty, Expressions, Identity, etc are explained not only verbally, but with great skits and sketchs. Everything from skits with Michael Palin trying to get his face on a coin to Cleese and Hurley posing for the 18th Century French paparazzi painters, help make this as entertaining as it is educational.
Great for the whole family.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
John Cleese is not an academic but a comedian, so his approach to a serious subject has to be a little frivolous, but that is part of John's charm. None the less, Cleese is no fool. He approaches the subject from a number of directions, and comes up with quite a few surprises on why we recognize caricatures more easily than portraits, and just what is it that makes Elizabeth Hurley beautiful.

i enjoyed it on quite a few levels, for its intelligence, insight and humour.
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Format: DVD
The first 3 episodes are pretty interesting and use a combination of animation and strange setups to make the points vivid and entertaining. There were demonstrations of the principles using things I had never seen before such as Indian laughter groups and the 1:1.618 golden ratio (ok I saw this in PI, but didn't know really how it connected to perfect beauty, and I had never studied otherwise).

(SPOILER - next paragraph)
In one part, a white woman who was raped by a black man helps to wrongly convict an innocent man for ELEVEN years and the worst thing about how she feels is EMBARRASSED? Wow! If I was responsible for something like that I would be devastated at taking away a part of someone's life. They used this to show how we can easily mistake faces and how we tend to lump other races into a prototype. The point was a good point, but a better example of a more regretful person would have been more poignant.

The last episode "Fame" was a big drag. There were some fun moments such as Cleese visiting his usual produce store, but a large part of the show was taken up by who this casting director was going pick. Where was the science for this episode? It was more like an expose in why some people are addicted to celebrities, and a reality TV contest. Ugh.

I would say watch it for the first 3 episodes and have fun with it, but don't expect this entire show to be a documentary into how our faces work, and don't expect it to be scientific.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
John Cleese brings his signature brand of humor together with interesting and thought-provoking interviews to create such an interesting mini-series about the face - why is it beautiful (or not)? What do expressions mean? Do they mean the same thing to everyone? Who is the BEST at knowing if people tell the truth - or if they lie? What would life be like if you couldn't recognize the faces of friends? Why are facial deformities so "problematic" for societies - is it because of their elevated importance of beauty, or is there a different reason? This fascinating video will answer all these and more, leave you laughing... and actually make you SMARTER by the time its over. Support given by the undeniably beautiful and witty Elizabeth Hurley, funny man Michael Palin, and others round out the experience. I couldn't recommend this movie more.
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