Film review: The Human Experiment (2013)

review by Jana Gowan

The Human Experiment (2013)

Dir. by Don Hardy, Jr. and Dana Nachman

Written by Dana Nachman

Narrated by Sean Penn

The 2013 documentary, The Human Experiment, is currently available to stream on Netflix. This film offers a crash course to consumers on the everyday realities of toxic exposures, and it’s a helpful introduction to many of the issues that we’re exploring with our new “Chemical Entanglements” research initiative.

Looking into everyday chemical exposures reveals a tangled mass of facts and myths generated by an intricate web of significant players – scientists, activists, lobbyists and corporations. The Human Experiment provides a guide through this mess for the uninitiated and covers questions at the core of Chemical Entanglements: What does the science say? Who controls the science? What does the law say? Who controls the law? What do consumers say?

The Human Experiment is at its best when it focuses on the human experience. Watching California state Senator Mark Leno grapple with frustrations of attempting to pass effective chemical legislation make a lasting impression. This documentary urges the viewer to engage with the issues surrounding the use of synthetic chemicals in everyday life. Although an imperfect primer that can be vague and biased, The Human Experiment’s best feature is the film’s focus on the human element, which is why this issue matters in the first place.