CAPSULE: THE GOD CELLS surveys the contentious debate on the value of fetal stem cells in treating serious illness and it plants its feet clearly and unambiguously on one side of the debate. Eric Merola was so impressed with the results he got with stem cell treatment that he wrote and directed this monument to the treatment. If stem cell therapy is as good as he says, one wonders why we are not hearing more about it from the rest of the world where, unlike in the United States, the therapy is legal. I cannot evaluate the medical claims Merola makes but they are a little too extravagant to be taken at face value. Rating: 0 (-4 to +4) or 4/10
First the basics: What is a stem cell? Every cell in a human came from a stem cell. It is basically the raw material from which all the different kinds of cells descend. All the cells of a multi- cell organism had their origin as stem cells. The fetus of a child has a multitude of stem cells, more than are needed by the baby. These cells are present in the early period of a fetus, but they are material that does not get used in the making of the baby. In the process of aborting a baby these cells that would not have become baby are discarded as medical waste as if they had no value. These cells can, however, be collected and used to create in a laboratory (in vitro) many other kinds of cells that would be useful in medicine, but almost always they are discarded. This question of whether to use the cells gives rise to religious, ethical, and social issues. It is considered an unnatural use of human fetuses. The concerns have to be weighed against the potential these cells would have to save and restore human life. There is a question of the ethics of using biological material taken from human fetuses to save or improve other people's lives. Eric Merola wrote and directed THE GOD CELLS, a documentary examining the controversy stemming from the controversy of stem cell research.
This is partly a startling documentary and part a hard sell on the medical benefits of fetal stem cell treatment for, well, just about anything that needs fixing. Apparently stem cells injected in a patient will find what needs to be repaired and will go there. THE GOD CELLS starts with testimonials of people helped or virtually cured from very bad diseases like cystic fibrosis and by the end of the film it is presenting the view that the treatment is good for just about whatever ails you. In addition to the case histories of near miraculous cures we get a short account of what fetal stem cells are, the controversy surrounding the treatment and big business's war against advocacy of the treatment. And always there is the return to covering patients relating miraculous case histories. As an odd touch nearly every case history seems to document a return not just to vigor in general but to a favorite sport in particular. Frequently the patient is now championship level at the sport.
Much of the film involves the legal status of the fetal stem cell therapy. Patients from the United States who want the treatment find they have to go to another country to get it. Fetal stem cell therapy, as powerful as it seems, is currently illegal on US soil. Americans who want the treatment must go to Mexico or Canada. This we are told is the result of a conspiracy led by the Food and Drug Administration at the behest of Big Pharmaceutical Corporations.
One point that should have been covered in the film and was not was what is happening in Canada. In Canada stem cell therapy is legal and by the evidence given it should really be taking that country's medical environment by storm. That does not appear to be happening. Why are we not hearing more about the popularity and success of the treatment in Canada? In the end writer/director Eric Merola reminds the audience that at times the treatment helps little or not at all. We see no statistics. This documentary is just the enthusiastic account of Merola who had had the treatment and wanted to share his good news. He may well be right about the importance of this medical treatment. His film is a little hard to believe without more corroboration. THE GOD CELLS, with its flamboyant title, is just a bit too fervent to be easily distinguished from pseudo-science. I rate THE GOD CELLS a 0 on the -4 to +4 scale scale or 4/10. THE GOD CELLS opens to limited release in New York on June 3 and in Los Angeles on June 10.
Film Credits: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5482596/combined
What others are saying: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/the_god_cells/?search=god%20cells
Mark R. Leeper Copyright 2016 Mark R. Leeper