In an unusual marriage of art and science, Death by Design takes viewers on a fantastic journey through a remarkable terrain. Its destination: the land of cells.
In this invisible world, cells communicate with each other, work together, reproduce, and die, all to benefit the larger organism of which they are part. But Death by Design is neither a biology primer nor a report on recent scientific breakthroughs. The filmmakers’ observation of cell interactions reveals a society astonishingly similar to our own human world, as images of cell life gleaned from state of the art microcinematographic equipment find their parallels in imploding skyscrapers and even unused film outtakes on an editing room floor.
The program contains interviews with noted biologists including Rita Levi-Montalcini, a programmed-cell-death pioneer and winner of the 1986 Nobel Prize for Medicine; Polly Matzinger; Robert Horvitz; and Martin Raff. But Death by Design is anything but a dull science film. It is one that, in the words of director Friedman, should be seen by “everyone with cells!”