Life before Birth

2005, Science  -  103 min Leave a Comment
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When does life truly begin? The stunning documentary Life before Birth doesn't approach this question primarily from a social or political perspective, but through the prism of medical and scientific observation. Utilizing the latest in spectacular 4D ultrasound imagery and innovative computerized animations, the film shows us the miraculous development of a fetus during its time in the womb.

The mysteries of life originate even before the occurrence of our birth. The film begins its narrative at the moment of conception as internal biological events lead to the fertilization of the egg. A male voice gives expression to the developing fetus at these crucial early stages. "I am in limbo, but at least I am," the narrator instructs. "A promise made by the past to the future." Life before Birth goes on to explore the formation of a fetus' genetic make-up, including the determinants of its gender and many aspects which foretell the entirety of the child's future outside of the womb.

The development of the fetus is meticulously recreated throughout the film's feature-length running time. We're shown the formation of the brain's completely exposed nerve endings after fifteen days in the womb during a phase of development in which the fetus has yet to take any discernibly human form. Blood and nourishment are allowed free flow throughout the embryo as the heart begins to develop from a mass of muscle cells after 22 days. At the 30 day marker, the embryo still appears undefined and gelatinous, although the eyes and limbs have already begun to manifest. As shown in four-dimensional scans, the fetus begins to kick after eleven weeks, and forms an additional complex series of reflexes and behaviors in the third trimester. During this entire process, the biology of the mother is naturally manipulated to harbor the safest haven possible for the continued healthy development of her fetus.

Splendidly visualized and featuring a wealth of fascinating insights, Life before Birth is an award-winning documentary that carefully dissects every milestone in the nine-month gestation of the human fetus. In so doing, it serves as a valuable reminder of the wonders of our natural evolution.