Film Review: The Miracle of Life

Last night we watched The Miracle of Life. I didn’t realize that there’s an updated version because they changed the film’s name to Life’s Greatest Miracle, so we ended up seeing the version straight from health class circa 1999, senior year of high school, complete with infrared images of a penis becoming erect, a beaver shot with baby’s head emerging, and close-ups of deformed sperm swimming in circles. The memories came flooding back. Like how, after the bloody gunk came out of the woman’s vagina, I called out, “Soup’s on!” and the class cracked up. Back when the thought of having a child grossed the hell out of me. (Now it is only mildly terrifying.)

There were things I didn’t remember too, like the ambient new age soundtrack, which for some reason took a turn towards dark rhythms and klaxons during the ejaculation sequence. Compared with the swelling keyboards and blue tones that followed the egg down the fallopian tubes, the man’s reproductive cycle came off as a more aggressive, sometimes monstrous crimson character, attacking the egg with hordes of hungry sperm.

Unfortunately there was no “making of” extra. Some of the shots, like the stained images of the woman’s reproductive organs, were probably made with a cadaver. But how did they get a camera inside a vagina to film the penis ejaculating? Either that was a really tiny camera or they simulated it somehow (maybe using another cadaver). And how did they get the camera inside the placenta to see the fetus up close? The narrator points out that the fetus has its eyes closed – no surprise given that the camera is shining a spotlight at it! The fetus seemed to be trying to swat it away. I felt bad for the little guy. It would be great to have an interview with the person now. What long lasting effects did the invasion of the prenatal paparazzi have?

Though the cinematography was impressive, we were ultimately disappointed that the film spent forty minutes on fertility, sex, and cellular reproduction, and only twenty minutes on the baby’s development. Reviews on Netflix said that the new version spends more time on pregnancy, but still falls short. Why isn’t there a good documentary showing the baby’s development while also tracking the changes to the mother’s body and the family’s lifestyle? Someone get on that.

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