Awarded at Sundance, Genesis 2.0 is a baffling journey into the core of cloning, history, biology, and ethics
On the northernmost edge of Siberia, a group of scientists are living the real Jurassic Park – with mammoths.
Every summer a group of North Siberian men set out on a bold journey. They cross the Arctic Ocean in small rubber boats from the Siberian coast to the New Siberian Islands. The Arctic landscapes are beautiful, rugged, and look like they are from another world. The journey is over 150 kilometres long and takes at least two days to complete. Almost every year someone drowns, in worst cases the whole boat’s crew. Still, the hunters are prepared to take the risk.
What makes these men set out on this dangerous journey are mammoth tusks, unveiled on shore banks and in the ground as the permafrost thaws. Sometimes the tusk hunters even find whole frozen mammoths. The hunters desperately look for tusks, even though they believe that finding one will bring them bad luck. At best, you can get paid tens of thousands of dollars for a tusk. For the person who finds it, it is like hitting the jackpot. This is what the tusk hunters seem to be looking for – hope of a better tomorrow.
There are two kinds of buyers of the ancient tusks: Chinese dealers who buy the tusks for using as raw material in luxury products, and scientists who dream of bringing a mammoth back to life through cloning. The protagonists of the documentary are two Siberian brothers. One of them is looking for tusks in hopes of becoming rich, the other one wishes to clone a mammoth.
Scientists hope to find a mammoth cell that has remained intact in the permafrost. The cell would contain the key to cloning: A DNA tract that would make it possible to grow a baby mammoth in an elephant womb. This would be a scientific breakthrough. Other animals are already being cloned. You can get your dead dog back for a good one hundred thousand dollars.
But is it ethically right to clone an animal that has been extinct? Can humans rewind evolution? And for whom would the mammoth be resurrected? For the benefit of human beings, or for the value of the species itself?
The writer is an Arctic ecology researcher and a nature and science journalist.
Translation: Ulrika Sundelin
Language: English, Korean, Russian, Yakut
Subtitles: English (partly)
- Director: Christian Frei, Maxim Arbugaev
- Country: Swizerland
- Year: 2018
- Length: 113 min
- Age limit: K12
- Format: DCP
- Cinematography: Peter Indergand, Maxim Argubaev
- Editing: Thomas Bachmann
- Music: Max Richter
- Production: Frei Filmproduction
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