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Book and Media Reviews
March 18, 2009

Bioethics at the Movies

JAMA. 2009;301(11):1180-1181. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.329

Robots, farm animals, human clones, disabled individuals, and genetically ideal persons star in a collection of essays that reel in 22 motion pictures pertinent to ethical issues in science and medicine. Bioethics at the Movies is not simply a compilation of film criticism. The book promotes movies as a useful medium to teach ethics. Its assertion that “Films can provide vivid and emotionally engaging illustrations of philosophical issues” is hard to dispute.

All but 3 of the movies featured in the book were released between 1995 and 2004. Many are familiar titles, including I, Robot; Soylent Green; and Wit. Three are recent Spanish motion pictures: Talk to Her, The Sea Inside, and My Life Without Me. Two films originated in Japan, including the fabulous Ikiru by director Akira Kurosawa. It is no surprise that more than 15% of the pages are devoted to 2 bioethical blockbusters: Gattaca and Million Dollar Baby.

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