s stands for “sagan om livet” – the miracle of life

A-Z 2013

Day 22; S stands for ”Sagan om livet” – “life’s very first dance”

“A photographer must register, not directing”
Lennart Nilsson

sagan om livet - eramuslim com

I just felt I had to this post too when I was working on my post about Hasselblads cameras, h stands for hasselblad. Because Hasselblad was used during to making of this absolute astounding documentary and for the book about how a life is born – from that the baby is conceived to the baby was born.

The man behind the documentary is Lennart Nilsson, our master photographer. It was showed on Swedish TV in 1982. The most astounding 55 minutes.

It all started when he published his book in 1965 – “Ett barn blir till” – “A child is born” – that had photos of the whole journey. It was then he started to play with the idea to make a film about the same journey. And 17 years later the film was showed. The book he did together with Professor Lars Hamberger, that also worked with Lennart making the film. Lars is professor and chief of obstetrics and gynecology, is a Swedish pioneer in artificial insemination and internationally recognized stem cell researcher, maybe I have give him his own space.

Lennart has made more films about our body – but that I will come to when I do a post about Lennart, the man behind the cameras – you have to wait until next year. Lennart became 90 years old, last November.

“Sagan om livet “is the story of how a person becomes, how sperm and human egg is formed, how transport takes place and the dramatic meeting well into the woman’s fallopian tubes. Via a special TV camera team has for the first time ever managed to record how one human egg parts itself – the very first step towards a new life

The film was made at Sahlgrenska Hospital in Gothenburg. It was something he worked hard in conjunction with what he sees as its today’s foremost journalistic achievement, he made together with TV producer Bo G Eriksson and Lars. They used a camera in the penis. I’m amazed that the man in question was able to produce anything while the camera was in his private part.

Lennart have said about the film making: “I moved to Gothenburg and Sahlgrenska Hospital where Lars Hamberger helped us build up a big thermostatic room. We worked hard, was unshaven and looked crazy out. But where could we first shoot the sperm putts on the human oocyte and how it then split up. It was the first moving pictures on how an egg sharing in the world. Fertilized and split. There we were first. Maybe we were not the best, but we were first. Journalism was my strongest thing. When the sperm met the egg began to slowly go counter clockwise. As a planet, he said.

It is now a piece of bun turns into a sperm and the dish becomes an egg when he spins it between your hands.

– I was breathless throughout the half-day that we filmed. For eye movement would of course be invisible, but in that we filmed with an image in minutes, so it became the clear. At first I wondered if we did wrong, or had made a mistake, but it was not, slowly, slowly the egg continued to spin counter clockwise. It was life’s very first dance.” (text; karolinska.se)

NOVA produced “The Miracle of Life” for the US market in 1983, the episode won multiple awards including the Peabody and an Emmy award. In the episode is an American couple telling their story – they never had a part in the filmmaking, but the film is Lennart’s. Nova’s presentation of the their DVD:

 “A baby’s birth is the culmination of nature’s most complex, mysterious, and seemingly miraculous process. Renowned Swedish photographer Lennart Nilsson presents the incredible voyage of a new life with his stunning look at the microscopic world of the human body. Magnification of up to half a million times actual size shows just what happens at the moment of conception, and how a single new cell forms first an embryo, then a fetus” (text: PBS – Nova)

The BBC acquired the episode for the documentary series Horizon and it aired on October 11, 1982.
You can buy the DVD from Amazon.com, price $14.99/£9.80/€11.50/96.00SEK. A wonderful gift to parents to be. Please, give 56 min of your day to this film.I promise you will look at life a total different way afterwards, Enjoy!

“Sagan om livet” have been and still are used in educational purpose in schools all over the world, I wish it was made when our class was going to have – sexual education, because those classes was totally a laughing stock, a happy hour.

In my world has never been any real space for children of my own – never been in my book – but I love kids, a half truth. Because I don’t really like newborns – love toddlers. Still I find Lennart’s film so interesting and amazing … and I have always wonder how did they do it. I think that it was his book that made Hasselblad to land on the moon.

lennart - sperms - liveinternet ru

As cloud for this remarkable film I have chosen my favorite folk song – I have been singing since before I started school at the age of 6.”Uti vår hage” (Out in our paddock)  is a Swedish folk song of unknown origin and age, which were recorded for the first time on the Swedish island, Gotland during the 1880s. “Uti vår hage”  is the most beloved of our folk songs, much because of the oft-repeated arrangement for choir by Hugo Alfvén. Here an US choir from Minnesota sings in Swedish, more information I don’t have. A song that is so joyful and delightful … that welcomes the joys of nature! Just like every little baby should be welcomed.

uti-var-hage - eloria fi

“Uti Vår Hage”/”Out in Our Paddock”

“Out in our paddock which grow blue berries.
Come hearts’joy
Do you want me nage ‘, then you have me here!
Come lilies and columbine,
Come roses and sage,
Come sweet curly mint, Come hearts’joy!

Fair small flowers which invite to dance.
Come hearts’joy
Would you, so I tie a wreath for you!
Come lilies and columbine,
Come roses and sage,
Come sweet curly mint, Come hearts’joy!

The wreath that I put then in your hair,
Come hearts’joy
The sun of the valleys, but the hope is!
Come lilies and columbine,
Come roses and sage,
Come sweet curly mint, Come hears joy !

Out in our paddock are flowers and berries,
Come hearts’joy
But out of all of you dearest to me!
Come lilies and columbine,
Come roses and sage,
Come sweet curly mint, Come hearts joy!”

Photo provided by and thanks to;
Gallery 1; genuardis.net/coverbrowser.com/sverigesradio.se/cdunivers.com/
Gallery 2; fem.com/svenskdam.se/teoti.com/greenwood.ru/oddstufflab.com/
Other: livinternet.ru/eramuslim.com/eloria.fi
Featured photo; fotografiska.eu

36 thoughts on “s stands for “sagan om livet” – the miracle of life

    • The amazing thing is that most of the photos I used was taken 50 years ago, in 1965. You should take your time and watch the video …. it’s SO amazing. Most images from inside a pregent woman or an unborn child is from Lennarts film.

  1. your post this time is really interesting.
    Actually, your posts are very informative in nature and one gets to know a lot. Infact I got to know about Hasselblad through your blog and now I am looking forward to seeing this documentary too. Good work Viveka 🙂

    • Thank you so much …. I enjoy bringing Sweden out in the limelight – the problem is that I’m not able to write short about my subjects and objects. I learn so much myself to through the research I’m doing for the post. So glad you like them.
      Only a week to go now, then back to normal silly me.

  2. I never fail to be mesmerised by those images Viveka! The dance of life is magical enough. To capture the entire process on camera is an astounding feat! Thank you for the background info.

      • Yes, have always felt spirtual when I watch the video … even if I’m not a believer as such … amazed how nature and our bodies works from the first moment.

    • You’re so welcome .. what I think is so amazing is that the book was published 50 years ago already … and they where able to do that film without harming mothers and their babies.
      I think they are the most beautiful photos ever been taken.
      That we carry all this bold colors inside us … amazing.
      It’s a film that all of us should see really.

    • Thanks, Frank … glad that you have watched. It was ages since I saw it last time, until I did the post and I watched it again. Magical footage

    • Yes, it’s amazing … and he have done a film that will never go out of fashion, like fashion or art … every time a little baby is conceived .. the same thing will happen inside the women’s bodies. the same way … it’s a timeless documentary into the end of time.

  3. You’ve done an amazing job with this post, Viveka! The miracle of life… I’m speechless really. I thought “I haven’t got 55mins to spare!” but I sat for more than 30 before I tore myself away. Fabulous job. What would the world do without Sweden! 🙂

    • Thank you so much for taking the time to watch … the video. It’s a master piece. I think the world had been losing out big time if little Sweden hadn’t been around *smile
      That is present you can give to your daughter .. when her first baby has “been made”. *smile

  4. Thank you so much for sharing those images with us Viveka! I’m sure I’ve seen the film at one time or another (surely?) but I’ll make some time to watch it again. Lennart Nilsson was quite the innovator, wasn’t he? I can’t believe the images he was able to capture even 50 years ago. Simply astounding!


    • I know 50 year old is the book .. and those photos are amazing too. I don’t have a clue how they did it – but the photos are so clear … and the color inside the womb are so intense. They worked with quite a few pregnant ladies; the cool thing is that they all provided the same picture of the event. It will never change and they never have to do a new film or book about the event how a life is born, because nothing has changed or will change. It’s a timeless progress. I’m amazed that the babies wasn’t coming to any harm. Thank you so much for taking time …

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