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Anatomy and Physiology Movies

Finding movies and documentaries to illustrate the different systems of the human body is difficult. Some are short on actual information, while others are too detailed or outright boring. These are all movies I've used before with my own anatomy and physiology classes, both at the high school and introductory college level. If you have any suggestions for movies that I don't have listed here, please email me. I'd love to preview them for my classes!

Click on the picture next to each documentary to see its page on Amazon, including reviews and purchase price.

Human Body Overview | Cells and Tissues | Integumentary | Skeletal | Muscular | Cardiovascular

Respiratory | Digestive | Urinary and Excretory | Reproductive


Introduction / Human Body Overview

National Geographic's The Incredible Human Machine DVD on Amazon.com

The Incredible Human Machine

Length: 90 minutes

Description: This is a National Geographic documentary that takes the viewer through an entire day's worth of activities to show how the various systems of the body work together to keep us alive. All systems of the body are covered, from integumentary through reproductive, making this a good movie for the beginning of a human anatomy course.


Cells and Tissues

Our Secret Universe: The Hidden Life of the Cell on Youtube

Our Secret Universe: The Hidden Life of the Cell

Length: 55 minutes

Description: The Hidden Life of the Cell is a documentary made by the BBC in 2012. Computer generated animation shows the inner works of a cell under attack by a virus, while doctors and scientists explain what we understand about cell defenses. This is actually an ideal video to show during a unit on cells, because the emphasis is on how the cell's normal structures are engaged by the virus in an attempt to infect it.

Autopsy Life and Death DVD set on Amazon.com

Autopsy Life and Death: Tumors

Length: 90 minutes

Description: This episode of the Autopsy Life and Death BBC series, by Dr. Gunther Von Hagens of Bodyworlds, explores the causes and health effects of cancer. The cadaver of a deceased breast cancer patient is dissected to show the spread of a malignant tumor and the damage it caused to other organs, including the liver and lungs.


Integumentary System

National Geographic's Extraordinary Humans DVD on Amazon.com

National Geographic Extraordinary Humans: Skin

Length: 45 minutes

Description: The skin is something we tend to take for granted. However, this video will show students how incredibly important and complex it is by showing two kids with rare skin disorders. The first is Harlequin Ichthyosis, which causes a young girl's skin to grow too many layers too quickly, creating a thick suit of skin. The second is Epidermolysis Bullosa, an inherited connective tissue disorder that causes a defect in the anchoring proteins be tween the dermis and epidermis.



Skeletal System

National Geographic Rare Anatomy: Bones and Blood on Amazon.com

Rare Anatomy: Bones

Length: 45 minutes

Description: One of the best ways to learn about a system of the body is to understand what happens when something goes wrong. This episode of Rare Anatomy begins on a boy with osteogenesis imperfecta, also known as brittle bone disease. This disorder affects the body's ability to produce and utilize collagen in bones. Next, we meet woman with fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva, also known as Stone Man Syndrome. This disorder causes muscle tissue to become ossified into bone when damaged.


Bill Nye the Science Guy: Bones and Muscles on Amazon.com

Bill Nye the Science Guy: Bones and Muscles

Length: 25 minutes

Description: Bill Nye the Science Guy is written at a level more appropriate for middle schoolers, but this episode still gives a good overview of the basics of skeletal movement. Bill explains what bones are made of, how they work together with muscles to produce movement, and even some of the anatomical features of bones (periosteum, compact bone, spongy bone, etc).


Muscular System

National Geographic Rare Anatomy: Bones and Blood on Amazon.com

Anatomy For Beginners: Movement

Length: 45 minutes

Description: Anatomy For Beginners is a 4-part series hosted by Dr. Gunther von Hagens, the creator of the famous Bodyworlds traveling exhibition. The Movement episode actually incorporates three body systems, including integumentary, skeletal, and muscular. The main focus, however, is on skeletal muscles and how they actually function to produce movement. Dr. von Hagens uses a donated cadaver to show what muscles look like under the skin, and actually cuts into the quadriceps to show its incredible size and strength in extending the lower leg.

Bigger, Stronger, Faster DVD on Amazon.com

Bigger, Stronger, Faster*

Length: 105 minutes

Description: Bigger, Stronger, Faster is a documentary produced by Christopher Bell, the brother of Mike Bell, a former WWF professional wrestler and steroid user. The documentary examines some of the pressures on men, and in particular atheletes to use performance enhancing drugs such as steroids. The film attempts to be as objective as possible when discussing the benefits and side effects of the drug. Finally, other treatments besides steroids are discussed, including ones that affect blood viscocity and blood pressure.

Magic School Bus Complete Series on Amazon

Magic School Bus: Works Out

Length: 25 minutes

Description: While the Magic School Bus series is intended for elementary and middle school age students, the science content is solid and certainly adaptable for older ages too. This episode uses a triathalon competition to demonstrate how muscles are dependent on a constant supply of oxygen from the blood in order to function. The consequences of not receiving enough oxygen -- anaerobic respiration with lactic acid production, are also shown.


Respiratory System

National Geographic Rare Anatomy: Bones and Blood on Amazon.com

Anatomy For Beginners: Circulation

Length: 45 minutes

Description: Anatomy For Beginners is a 4-part series hosted by Dr. Gunther von Hagens, the creator of the famous Bodyworlds traveling exhibition. While this episode is entitled Circulation, most of it is actually spent dissecting and examining the respiratory system. There is a terrific visual about midway where the cadaver's lungs are exposed and Dr. von Hagens inflates them through a tube. Students will be amazed to see the lungs actually physically inflate and deflate as the cadaver "breathes". The last third of the episode focuses on the heart, which leads well into the cardiovascular system.


Cardiovascular System

Autopsy Life and Death DVD Set on Amazon.com

Autopsy Life and Death: Blood

Length: 45 minutes

Description: Autopsy Life and Death is a follow-up to the Anatomy For Beginner series. In this episode, Dr. von Hagens uses the cadaver of a patient who died of heart disease to examine the anatomical changes that occur in the body as a result of various cardiovascular disorders. Topics covered include embolisms, aneurysms, artherosclerosis, and heart attacks.

Forks Over Knives DVD on Amazon.com

Forks Over Knives

Length: 96 minutes

Description: Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death in the United States. At least some of these deaths are attributable to diet. This documentary promotes the idea of using diet as prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease. A series of statistics, studies, and interviews with doctors provides evidence that many of the heart-related health issues faced by the United States and other affluent countries can largely be avoided by switching to a plant-based diet.



Digestive System

The Anatomy For Beginners DVD on Amazon.com

Anatomy For Beginners: Digestion

Length: 45 minutes

Description: This episode of the Anatomy for Beginner series gives students another perspective on the digestive system. He takes a simulated piece of food and traces its path through the body of a cadaver. He dissects out the entire digestive tract, including the esophagus, epiglottis, stomach, and intestines. The episode concludes with the stretching out of the entire human intestinal tract, ending up at a total of 7 meters.

Bill Nye the Science Guy: Digestion on Amazon.com

Bill Nye the Science Guy: Digestion

Length: 25 minutes

Description: This episode of Bill Nye the Science Guy explains each of the stages of digestion with students, up to the large intestine. Correct scientific terminology is used at every point, including identifying the chewed food as a bolus, and partially digested food as chyme.




Urinary and Excretory System

Autopsy Life and Death DVD Set on Amazon.com

Autopsy Life and Death: Poison

Length: 45 minutes

Description: This episode of Autopsy: Life and Death looks at the effect that toxins can have on the body. The cadaver used in this study experienced severe liver and kidney disease, likely as the result of excessive alcohol consumption. The main body system covered in this episode is the urinary system, with the pathway of urine traced from the kidneys down through the ureter and bladder. The digestive system is also given some attention, as the doctor discusses the importance of the liver and what can cause an obstructed bowel.


Reproductive System

Autopsy Life and Death DVD Set on Amazon.com

Anatomy For Beginners: Reproduction

Length: 45 minutes

Description: This episode of Anatomy for Beginners explores both the male and female anatomy up close. First, Dr. von Hagans dissects out the testes, even cutting them open at one point to show the seminferous tubules. Next, he traces the vas deferens up to the inguinal canal, where it crosses into the pelvic cavity. Finally, he removes the cavity from the specimen to show the different accessory organs. Similarly in the female, the entire tract is revealed, from the vagina up through the uterus and eventually the ovaries.

Forks Over Knives DVD on Amazon.com

In the Womb: Multiples

Length: 96 minutes

Description: The Inside the Womb series by National Geographic follows the development of a new embryo through birth. The Multiples documentary specializes in twins, triplets, and quadruplets -- how they are conceived, how the uterus accomodates them, and what determines whether they can be born naturally or through Caesarean section. The use of 4D scanning also enables the viewer to see how the fetuses interact with each other while they are in utero.

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