Humanimal, the Animal Mind


Duration : 6x52 '
Support : Digital Betacam - stereo - 16/9 - 4/3 


Author : Thierry Berrod
Director : Thierry Berrod - Vincent Amouroux


Production : Mona-Lisa - France 2 - Arte

see trailer
download trailer (1Mo)
download trailer - episode Dog

Concept of the series


For centuries, the animal world and the human world have been carefully kept separate.
Humans once considered themselves to be at the summit of intelligence and sensitivity, denying "beasts" all possibility of intelligence and emotions. Yet, as researchers and scientists make one discovery after another, they gradually prove that the border between the two worlds is not quite as impenetrable as once thought.
Animals can learn, memorize, imitate, dream, they have language, intuition, can adapt their behavior to a given situation, sometimes use tools, develop codes and systems of social organization. All these abilities require the solicitation of elaborate mental functions and the mobilization of intelligence. It is therefore no longer absurd to speak of the "animal mind".


However, animal intelligence is also that which humans attribute to them, that humans study, measure and attempt to understand better. It is therefore impossible to treat this subject without examining the relations and the interactions between animals and humans.


In examining the anatomical and physiological properties of animals' brains, behavioral observations, research protocols and experiments undertaken by certain scientists, this series will raise the foremost questions about animal intelligence and attempt to answer them within the confines of current knowledge.


How can this intelligence be measured, what is the reference for comparison, on which criteria, how can intelligence demonstrate itself, what does animal intelligence teach us about ourselves, human beings, and our world, how do humans use this animal intelligence? Such are the implicit questions that will arise throughout the series.
In fact, cannot animal intelligence, in its widest sense, be quite simply interpreted as the ability to live in the best possible way in one's environment, and the ability to adapt?

The episodes


The series will focus on six very different animals, each one considered by many scientists to be among the most intelligent members of the animal world, and which inspire in us, for various reasons, a certain fascination: the pig, the wolf, the dolphin, the rat, the dog and the ape.


Narration, direction intentions


Each film will lead us through an exploration of the subject on a number of levels:


-scientific sequences
Visualization in 3 dimensions of animal brains, analysis of different zones of the brain (scanner, MRI), differences and similarities with humans, presentation of latest discoveries and research studies underway.


-sequences examining ethological observations and behavior analysis : adaptation to certain situations, social codes, communication, intuition, memorization of information, etc.


-zoological sequences providing a better understanding of certain characteristics and abilities of the animal under observation, because intelligence must necessarily be observed in conjunction with the specific properties and perceptive capacities of each animal. (Accordingly, in the episode devoted to the dolphin, we will discover, using electron microscopy, the details of its skin structure.)


-sequences examining the relations between humans and the animal
Animals and their intelligence in their relations with humans.
The utilization of animals or their properties by humans (example: the very special structure of dolphin skin has inspired the research on bionics being carried out by the American army)


-historical and "ethno-cultural" sequences
The place, the representation of animals and the abilities we attribute to them throughout history and across cultures.


Each film will lead us to the four corners of the world, to meet the scientists, researchers, all kinds of people with a passion for animals, each of whom in turn will offer answers to the questions raised at the beginning of the different parts of the film. They will tell us astonishing and unheard of stories about animal intelligence.


The narration will combine a well-documented, rigorous and informative content with an entertaining form and tone (visual jingles illustrating the main themes, surprising camera angles and movements, humorous commentaries accompanying certain sequences, etc.)


The direction principle will be comparable with that which has already proven its value in the series "Squatters" (9X52’), a value attested to by the 40 prizes this series has been awarded to date in international festivals (see attached details): a vast "international investigation" treating the many facets of the subject, and the use of a unique filming technique allowing the poorly known aspects of each animal to be explored.


Filming techniques


For every series with scientific content that it produces, Mona Lisa Production attempts to develop a new filming technique that, while contributing to the special identity of the series, offers unique and revolutionary images.


For "Squatters", the technology used was electron microscopy (ESEM: environmental scanning electron microscope). In exclusive partnership with Philips FEI, Mona Lisa Production developed a technique (patent Mona Lisa Production) allowing living and moving microscopic creatures to be filmed, with a magnification of up to 25,000 times and an astonishing depth of field.


For the Animan series, the technology to be used is magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). This technique offers the possibility of producing images with volume of the interior of each animal's body, in particular its brain, localizing the different zones and explaining their function.
A new way to cross the frontier of the invisible, and to visualize a hitherto inaccessible universe.
Mona Lisa is currently carrying out research on the development of new filming techniques using MRI.








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