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NOVA - The Miracle of Life

4.2 out of 5 stars 89 customer reviews

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(Jun 29, 2004)
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Editorial Reviews

A baby's birth is the culmination of nature's most complex, mysterious, and seemingly miraculous process. Renowned Swedish photographer Lennart Nilsson presents the incredible voyage of a new life with his stunning look at the microscopic world of the human body. Magnification of up to half a million times actual size shows just what happens at the moment of conception, and how a single new cell forms first an embryo, then a fetus.

Special Features

  • Link to the Award-Winning NOVA Website
  • Filmed by world-renowned Swedish photographer Lennart Nilsson

Product Details

  • Actors: .
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: PBS
  • DVD Release Date: June 29, 2004
  • Run Time: 60 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (89 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 1578071968
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #22,651 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "NOVA - The Miracle of Life" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
I first saw this one almost twenty years ago. It had a profound effect on me then, and it still moves me now. This is the documentary that shows you the birds and the bees. It was done before the days of computerized special effects, and was a landmark for it's day. Even today, it holds up quite well.
The presentation does make its stand on evolution vs. creation early by stating that life began in the sea billions of years ago with one-celled organisms that formed there. It partially does this to show how these cells are basically the same as those in our own body. So whether or not this is your belief, let it go, and proceed with the rest, which beautifully illustrates how babies are made.
We first get how each camp's plumbing is layed out, before any contact is made. We learn how, even with the success of the population's reproduction rate, things do have to fall into place for everything to work. When we come to the actual mating part, it is tastefully done, although it does seem to indicate that all humans are wonderful and loving when it comes to sex.
Once man and woman are joined, the filming is terrific in showing that a lot of work still needs to be done to get junior going. If I were a little guy with a tail realizing I had to swim the equivalent of sixty miles with a few million of my little buddies with the best scenario being only one of us will succeed might make me rethink the process, but indeed the guys do make the journey.
We see how the connection is made, and then how the cell-dividing process starts. Once again, the camerawork is excellent, and we see different fetal stages which lead all the way to junior's entering of the big, bad world. This is terrific stuff.
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Format: DVD
[I wrote the following review for the second edition "Life's Greatest Miracle," but in the review I compare both editions, so I think you'll find my review helpful.]

"Life's Greatest Miracle" is a one-hour PBS program on how the human life starts in the womb. Produced circa 2001, it was an updated edition of the ~1983 ground-breaking "The Miracle of Life," also aired in the U.S. under the auspice of the Nova series.

I've watched both DVDs and I'll compare the two. If you are debating which version to watch, I say it depends on your interest: if you want to see more microscopy photography, get the original "The Miracle of Life." If you want a better viewing experience, get this one, "Life's Greatest Miracle." I give both DVDs 3 stars.

While not as ground-breaking as the original, "Life's Greatest Miracle" sports higher-definition, more colorful microscopic video images, which are simply amazing. Of course, everyone who's never seen a large number of sperm swimming around will simply be mesmerized. I couldn't tell whether the all the video footage of the wiggling sperm was the same as in the original edition, but it seemed to me that here either the sperm were stained more (with chemicals so they stand out against the background, as is done all the time in biology), or the producers somehow increased the contrast. To the viewer, the action (no pun intended!) is more captivating. (In the old edition, images are coarser and less colorful.)

The biggest difference between this edition and the original program is the emphasis of the content. The original edition emphasizes the science part, and there are long sequences of cells dividing and inside looks of the vagina and uterus.
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By A Customer on August 1, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
This is a startlingly close look at the making of a baby, and really makes you realize how beautiful life is. My big concern is its imablance--lots of footage of pre-conception and conception, and then only a few images of the embryo and fetus, and an unsatisfyingly quick overview of the birth. The early parts got me excited about life, and then the sudden ending left me empty. I wish they had covered all the stages of "the miracle of life" in equal depth, and made the film longer. In other words, this is a remarkable study of the earliest stages of pregnancy only.
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By A Customer on December 1, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
The video was detailed and provided insightful information into fetal development, but I was very disappointed that the first 45 minutes covers pre-conception information and only 15 minutes covers the entire gestational period with less than 3 minutes dedicated to birth. I watched the last 15 minutes over and over, but I really felt that the first 3/4 of the video was wasted.
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By A Customer on May 18, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
The cinematography of this video is truly breathtaking. A learning process from beginning to end. Everytime I watch this video, I am constantly amazed and how the photographer was able to capture the events of conception. A masterpiece!
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Format: VHS Tape
The photography is wonderful however, I found the outline to be misleading. The video starts out covering the preconception and conception phases of human development. It quickly changes focus and spends about 40 minutes comparing the human fetus to that of a fish, chick, and pig. Too much time was spent covering theories of possible links between all land and sea creatures. This left about 10 minutes to sum up a 10 second delivery and show toddlers at play.
This video did not flow well and left you frustrated waiting for more concrete information.
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