Death By Design

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Death By Design

That the continuation of life is dependent on the continued presence of death is a fact that's as inevitable as it is difficult to accept. It's on this subject, however, that the French documentary Death By Design dwells. In conversations with biologists from throughout Europe and America, Peter Friedman and Jean-François Brunet discuss death as it occurs on a cellular level, revealing that the continued existence of organisms depends on cell death, and that even the formation of bodies can be viewed as an example of this process. Hands and fingers, for instance, don't really spring forth so much as the material around them wastes away. Avoiding the traditional natural-science documentary approach, Friedman and Brunet illustrate their examples with animation, stock footage, clips from silent comedies, and other unlikely sources. The parallels they draw sometimes seem strained, and Death By Design never reaches a level of profundity akin to the similarly, if less specifically, minded Koyaanisqatsi, but it's still an interesting way to learn about cell death, if you're so inclined.

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