Search - NOVA - The Miracle of Life on DVD

NOVA - The Miracle of Life
NOVA - The Miracle of Life
Actors: David Ogden Stiers, Bo Moller, Hans Wigzell, Klaus Renner, Hans-Jochen Lunemann
Director: Mikael Agaton
Genres: Drama, Educational
NR     2000     3hr 6min

Each minute, all over the world, a baby is born. An everyday occurrence, yet each birth is the culmination of one of nature's most complex, mysterious, and seemingly miraculous processes. A dramatic breakthrough in science...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: David Ogden Stiers, Bo Moller, Hans Wigzell, Klaus Renner, Hans-Jochen Lunemann
Director: Mikael Agaton
Creators: Graeme McBride, Mikael Agaton, Beth Hoppe, Bo G. Erickson, Lars Rengfelt, Melanie Wallace, Paula Apsell, Thomas Friedman
Genres: Drama, Educational
Sub-Genres: Drama, Educational
Studio: WGBH Boston
Format: DVD - Color - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 03/28/2000
Original Release Date: 11/24/1996
Theatrical Release Date: 11/24/1996
Release Year: 2000
Run Time: 3hr 6min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 3
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English
Subtitles: English
See Also:

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Movie Reviews

Still holds up after the years | Las Vegas, NV | 10/29/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"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.The only drawback to this is that I didn't find it a great tool for sex education. It might work for someone over ten, but our kids, ranging from 4-9, just drifted away to do other things when we put it on. But for adults, something so simple, yet so powerful provides a great occasional reminder of where those birds, bees, rabbits, and storks get their employment papers."
Only 15 min of fetal development
Gadgester | 12/01/1999
(3 out of 5 stars)

"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."
An incredible journey on video
Gadgester | Mother Earth | 10/20/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)

"[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. This edition focuses on the entire process more, and speeds up and cuts out some of the long microscopic video scenes from the original edition. The story in this edition is weaved better and seems less like a science class as "The Miracle of Life."

Also, the present edition features updated information as well as some additional video (but not much). Also, there's more animation to help the viewer understand. The original program tends to get boring and confusing, but things are much more easily understood in this updated volume.

But I only give "Life's Greatest Miracle" 3 stars because, like the first one, it just doesn't have enough interesting stuff. Actual microscopic footage occupies perhaps just 1/3 of the total running time, and there's this unnecessary story of a pregnant couple. What's more, I couldn't tell whether some of the "inside the womb" scenes were microscopic photography or computer-rendered graphics, and this troubles me. I prefer "real" images, even if it means staining cells in order to make them look more vivid. Computer-generated stuff is fake, and it's worst when someone tries to pass it off as real.

In short, "Life's Greatest Miracle" is an informative and enjoyable program to watch -- and you are treated to the commercials that precede PBS's Nova airing! (Luckily you can forward-skip them.) Whether you are expecting or not, I recommend this, so everyone can appreciate human life more.

If you want a more science-oriented view with more microscopic footage, get the original "The Miracle of Life." The presentation is drier but you get to see more images that demonstrate how miraculous life is.
Gadgester | 08/01/1999
(3 out of 5 stars)

"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."