Review by Sarah Williams
Human Nature asks the hard questions about our changing world without ever really answering them. CRISPR technology has the power to rewrite our DNA, and to change the course of how we are immersed in nature. Once we can edit what occurs in the world, nature no longer has a fighting chance against us. Humanity has more power than we could have ever imagined. The film has a heavy focus on the scientists behind this technology, and the families that it has been able to change the lives of.
With the fears of change comes some good. The advances in editing our genes can cure and predict disease, as well as change how human evolution occurs. Once we understand our genes we start to make informed decisions based on them, and that's without being able to make any changes. Once change becomes a possibility, we no longer have any barriers preventing selectivity, and as much change as budget allows.
The worry is that this can lead to major ethical issues. Namely, the concern of eugenics takes precedent. The focus is on the positive instead, and makes a strong case for all the reasons we should have this new ability to wield. It's a human impact story packaged within education, meant to calm down the scare of the new technology that can change lives.
Human Nature does help to quell these fears, and is a focus on how we can use these technologies for good. It is a full collaboration between the scientists and the filmmakers, so it has a steady hand in explaining the good that can be done with CRISPR. We see lives changed and made vastly easier, generic conditions avoided because we've advanced to the point to be able to do so. Is it unnatural to do so, or are we simply changing the building blocks that nature has already given us?
It’s a shame the film’s theatrical release has fallen victim to the COVID-19 closings, as with the current Oscars rules, a theatrical qualifying run could be the first step in a chance at nominations. It’s the kind of informative yet still engaging filmmaking that breaks out part of a new story with social relevance that awards bodies love to see. Awards regulations may be changing with the pandemic, and with it, the ability for this film to qualify. It's timely in a moment where science is the largest news story, and it's comforting to see what we've been up to before every scientist in the world has been called up to solve a global crisis.
It’s the start of a broader movement, one where filmmakers come together with new scientific innovations from the start, so that the public can learn what is happening in an engaging manner. Many prefer to watch a video over reading a scientific journal article, and it's reasonable to assume most would. This brings advanced science to living rooms in an easily-digestible way, one where genetic engineering can become whole family viewing. If looking to learn something from home while shut in, Human Nature is a great start.
Human Nature is now available on VOD.