Wistar Institute Launches Free "Biology in the Movies" Film Series

Wistar Institute Launches Free "Biology in the Movies" Film Series

September 14, 2003

(PHILADELPHIA -  September 15, 2003) - What if humans could create life in the lab? What if aliens came to Earth? Since the earliest days of film, Hollywood has been fascinated by science - and science fiction. Beginning Wednesday, September 17, The Wistar Institute will launch a free eight-week "Biology in the Movies" film series featuring films spanning more than 70 years of movie history.

The first film in the series, to be shown September 17 at 7 p.m., is Frankenstein, the classic 1931 film directed by James Whale and starring Boris Karloff based on Mary Shelley's novel. In what may be the most famous horror film of all time, the brilliant but deranged Dr. Henry Frankenstein attempts to create life in his laboratory, and a grotesque, pitiful monster is born.

Shelley's remarkable story about Dr. Frankenstein and his monster - published in 1818 when she was 21 - remains relevant to understanding the public's sometimes conflicted perceptions of science. Often forgotten is that the full title of her book was Frankenstein: Or the Modern Prometheus. In Greek mythology, Prometheus was responsible for taking fire from the gods and making a gift of it to humans. The suggestion of Shelley's subtitle is that Dr. Frankenstein is "playing with fire" in trying to create life in his lab, assuming powers that rightly belong to the gods. And yet Prometheus was a benefactor to humankind. Likewise, the great majority of scientists are working to advance our knowledge of the world in which we live and improve our lives.

Admission to the film series is free and open to the public. Seating is limited - first come, first served. The movies will be shown on eight consecutive Wednesday evenings, September 17 through November 5, at 7 p.m. in The Wistar Institute's Joseph N. Grossman Auditorium. Enter The Wistar Institute, 3601 Spruce Street, on the 36th Street walkway just north of Spruce Street.

For full details on the series, visit: http://www.wistar.upenn.edu/news_info/movie/intro.htm.


The Wistar Institute is an independent nonprofit biomedical research institution dedicated to discovering the causes and cures for major diseases, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, autoimmune disorders, and infectious diseases. Founded in 1892 as the first institution of its kind in the nation, The Wistar Institute today is a National Cancer Institute-designated Cancer Center - one of only eight focused on basic research. Discoveries at Wistar have led to the development of vaccines for such diseases as rabies and rubella, the identification of genes associated with breast, lung, and prostate cancer, and the development of monoclonal antibodies and other significant research technologies and tools. Located on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania, The Wistar Institute maintains its status as an independent research center while enjoying a close working relationship with Penn, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, and other medical research organizations in the greater Philadelphia area.