“The Botany of Desire, a free PBS documentary on the evolutionary relationship between humans and plants. Featuring Michael Pollan and based on his best-selling book, this special takes viewers on an eye-opening exploration of the human relationship with the plant world, seen from the plants’ point of view. The program shows how four familiar species — the apple, the tulip, cannabis and the potato — evolved to satisfy our yearnings for sweetness, beauty…” (from PBS website)
More about the film (from PBS website):
Flowers. Trees. Plants. We’ve always thought that we controlled them. But what if, in fact, they have been shaping us? Using this provocative question as a jumping off point, The Botany of Desire, a two-hour PBS documentary based on the best-selling book by Michael Pollan, takes us on an eye-opening exploration of our relationship with the plant world – seen from the plants’ point of view.
Every schoolchild learns about the mutually beneficial dance of honeybees and flowers: to make their honey, the bees collect nectar, and in the process spread pollen, which contains the flowers’ genes. The Botany of Desire proposes that people and domesticated plants have formed a similarly reciprocal relationship. “We don’t give nearly enough credit to plants,” says Pollan. “They’ve been working on us – they’ve been using us – for their own purposes.”
The Botany of Desire examines this unique relationship through the stories of four familiar species, telling how each of them evolved to satisfy one of our most basic yearnings. Linking our fundamental desires for sweetness, beauty, intoxication and control with the plants that gratify them – the apple, the tulip, marijuana, and the potato – The Botany of Desire shows that we humans are intricately woven into the web of nature, not standing outside it.
Shot in stunning high definition photography, the program begins with Michael Pollan in a California garden and sets off to roam the world: from the potato fields of Idaho and Peru to the apple orchards of New England; from a medical marijuana hot house to the tulip mecca of Amsterdam, where in 1637, one Dutchman, crazed with “tulipmania,” paid as much for a single tulip bulb as the going price for a town house. How could flowers, with no real practical value to humans, become so desperately desired that they drove many to financial ruin?
The Botany of Desire argues that the answer lies in the powerful but often overlooked relationship between people and plants. With Pollan as our on-screen guide to this frankly sensuous natural world, The Botany of Desire explores the dance of domestication between humans and plants. Through the history of these four familiar plants, the film seeks to answer the question: Who has really been domesticating whom?