Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies is a three-part, six-hour major television event on PBS presented by documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, in partnership with WETA, the flagship public broadcasting station in Washington, D.C. Based on the 2010 Pulitzer Prize-winning book The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee, the series is the most comprehensive documentary on a single disease ever made. This “biography” of cancer covers its first documented appearances thousands of years ago through the epic battles in the 20th century to cure, control and conquer it, to a radical new understanding of its essence. The series also features the current status of cancer knowledge and treatment —the dawn of an era in which cancer may become a chronic or curable illness rather than its historic death sentence in some forms.
The series matches the epic scale of the disease, reshaping the way the public sees cancer and stripping away some of the fear and misunderstanding that has long surrounded it. The story of cancer is a story of human ingenuity, resilience and perseverance but also of hubris, paternalism and misperception. Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies examines cancer with a cellular biologist’s precision, a historian’s perspective and a biographer’s passion. The series artfully weaves three different films in one: a riveting history documentary; an engrossing and intimate vérité film; and a scientific and investigative report.
As Siddhartha Mukherjee writes in his book: “Cancer is built into us: the genes that unmoor normal cell division are not foreign to our bodies but rather mutated, distorted versions of the very genes that allow us to grow, to adapt, to recover, to repair –- to live. Malignant growth and normal growth are so genetically intertwined that unbraiding the two is one of the most significant scientific challenges faced by our species. If we seek immortality, then so, too, in a rather perverse sense, does the cancer cell.” The 6-part-series airs across March 30, 31st, and April 1st at 9pm ET on PBS. You can learn much more by entering the mothership at CancerFilms.org, as well as by visiting KenBurns.com. (Source: Kottke)
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